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Morning Express With Robin Meade

News/Business. Robin Meade.

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HLN

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04:00:00

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America 80, Byrd 60, Us 38, Merrill Lynch 24, Washington 22, U.s. 18, Amtrak 17, Virginia 14, Mr. Moynihan 12, West Virginia 11, Donald Richie 11, United States 11, Iraq 10, Texas 10, Mr. Lewis 10, Mr. Gifford 10, Chicago 9, Florida 8, New York 8, California 8,
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  HLN    Morning Express With Robin Meade    News/Business. Robin Meade.  

    November 18, 2009
    6:00 - 10:00am EST  

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obligations, mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps could perform in the next two months, november and december. the forecast said it would have zero effect on merrill lynch's bottom line. bank of america saw the document but did not show us they did any analysis to make up for merrill commissions. on the contrary, the evidence we have suggests that bank of america pulled a number out of thin air. far from being consistent with the actual experience of october or what they knew about the third quarter, the guess, wistfully assumed that the markets for collateralized debt obligation and credit default swaps would be significantly better in november and december. it was assumed that merrill
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lynch would almost break even for november. then the attorneys at bank of america went to work. they did not question the financial information they were given. . e financial information they were given. they begin with the assumption additional shareholder disclosure was necessary and they discussed what kind of exposure they would make but after studying the question for a week they decided the news was not sufficiently out of line from past performance than previous disclosures to warrant further shareholder disclosure. the sunmaid icuf council bank of america did not make any further disclosures to its shareholders in advance of the merger. within only beakes however within only beakes however reality thinking. far from having a small effect those collateralized debt obligations and other exotic instruments continued to lose large amounts of money. bank of america's guest which played a significant role in the decision not to make additional disclosures to shareholders
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proved to be billions of the mark. that is when bank of america went to the u.s. government for help. this investigation has opened up a rare window onto the management suite of the largest bank in the country. here is a story of how the bank of america's top executives allowed guesswork to masquerade as sexual expert knowledge and how numbers pulled out of the air without any actual analysis serve as the basis for corporate decisions made about other people's money, shareholders' money. unfortunately for all of us i dealt bank of america is unique. look around to see what the geniuses at wall street have brought. it is a house of cards they have built that have pared their constituents under debts they can't pay, record rates of foreclosure and joblessness. if you think these bankers and
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financiers deserve the millions of dollars they are paid in the bonuses they are worth, if anyone thinks they can be trusted with running companies that are too big to fail think again. the wizards of wall street are no more wizard than the wizard of oz, except unlike the kingdom of oz, when kingdom false there is wreckage all over america. i yield back. >> thank you very much. i now yield to the gentleman from ohio. >> itis want to respond to your previous statement. this is not about one administration, holding one administration accountable and not the other. this is about holding government accountable. the ranking member suggestion that we need, mr. schapiro, mr. cox, ms. ferren mr. geithner is exactly on target. no one in our previous hearings, no one when after the previous adminstration, specifically
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secretary paulson. we want the opportunity to go after and question the same folks who met are now in our current administration were involved in this decision. the german mentioned shotgun being held to-- the only shotgun involved here is what the government held of the bank of america's head. nine days after this past, they force bank of america and when bank of america had to sit down with eight other big institutions, force them to take t.a.r.p. money and then in the deal itself that is why we need officials who were involved in this whole decision here, as i suggested in some of our previous hearings. i think mr. paulson actually misled the congress when he came in front of the congress last year, asking for the t.a.r.p. money and as i said nine days later changing course dramatically and saying we are not going to purchase any of these mortgage-backed securities. so the question that mr. issa
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asked is right on target. the unprecedented move to have seen from the government in pressure we have seen from the government on this institution i think requires us to give mr. geithner, mr. cox, ms. bair and mr. paraben front of this committee and i hope the chairman will do that so we have a full airing of what took place and ask the proper questions and with that i would yield to the ranking member key would like. >> i just want to set the record straight you little bit because i think it is important. first of all we understand we are not the financial services committee. the sec does not report to us and that the sec has more jurisdiction over this commercial portion than we do what were the government oversight committee and i certainly, i would join with my colleague from ohio, in this case marcy kaptur. we lead the charge and work to try to defeat the t.a.r.p. because we knew the money would not be properly spent the way the administration broddick to us and as it turns out days after they got the money they spend it in a very different way
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so i think when we are setting the record straight we are setting the record straight that we didn't think the last administration should have these hundreds of billions of dollars of walking around money loosely disguised as an emergency fund for specific reasons and in fact a merger which was approved on december 5th consummated around december 17th-- consummated on december 31st, in those 20 days that president bush was still in office there wasn't any oversight we could have done. we were even in session except organized. what we did do is those of us who fought on a bipartisan basis the funding of t.a.r.p. continue to say that these were the outlandish ways to spend the money, that this was wrong for us to be part and parcel to mergers and acquisitions and price setting so today i think this committee needs to stand up to what we were doing and continue to look at where government failed us.
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we need to continue to do that and we certainly need to see the remainder of the t.a.r.p. not continue to be spent in a way that you yourself german have called a shotgun wedding and i thank the gentleman for yielding. >> thank you mr. chairman and the yield back. >> let me just say before a move forward, to make the assessment before we hear from our witnesses, you don't know what they are going to say then based on the fact that what has been set up to this point by mr. lewis indicated that the government in no way acted improperly. this is what he said. the question is if you don't believe in terms of his comments or his statement that is another issue but in the meantime we are going to move forward. would witnesses please stand? do you solemnly swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? [inaudible]
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you may be seated. going from my left to right, our witnesses today are timothy mayopolous, general counsel of bank of america for nearly five years from january 2004 until december 10, 2008. he is currently the executive vice president and general counsel and secretary of fannie mae. mr. moynihan was the general counsel of bank of america from december the tenth 2008 to january 22, 2009. he currently serves as the president of consumer and small-business lending at bank of america. mr. gifford and mr. may are currently on the bank of america board of directors and were on the board last december when the bank received its bailout. they are also on the committee that is selecting the replacement for mr. lewis. mr. mayopolous please give your
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opening statement and you have five minutes and the light starts out on green, then it turns to yellow and then of course it turns to read and when it gets to bed we ask that you would stop, which would allow the members of the opportunity to be able to raise questions after all of the witnesses have finished. >> chairman towns, ranking member issa and members of the committee thank you for the committees invitation to appear before you today. my name is tim mayopolous. bank of america recently waived its attorney-client privilege with respect to the-- >> pull the mic closer to you. >> has instructed me i'm free to answer questions. as the committee has requested i will briefly summarize that have set forth in more detail in my written testimony illegally buys bank of america received in connection with the merrill lynch merger as well as the circumstances of my departure from the company on december 10, 2008. i served as general counsel for five years. was responsible for overseeing a
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large number and wide range of legal matters. in the case of the merrill lynch merger i relied heavily on the company's outside counsel who are leading lawyers at the esteemed law firm of wachtell lipton as well as my own in-house legal department for the questions have been raised about what legal advice bank of america received as to whether to disclose to shareholders the amount of the potential 2008 bonus pool for merrill lynch employees. to my recollection i had no role in this issue. i do not recall lanny but raising were discussing with me whether the potential year-end bonus pool for merrill employee should be disclosed. as was my practice i relied on wachtell lipton and are in house debt to repair the proxy statement properly and accurately. the committee has asked what legal advice bank of america received regarding the provisions of the merger agreement. the only fisa recall giving about these provisions was on december 1, 2008. i dies bank of america's chief financial officer and then bank
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of america's head corporate strategy that for marolt poor financial performance to constitute an adverse change it had to be disproportionate to that of other companies in the industry including bank of america. we discussed the relative performance of the company since the merger had been announced and i advised mr. price metamaterial change had occurred with respect to merrill lynch. the committee has also has what it buys bank of america received with regard to whether we should disclose projected losses for the fourth quarter of 2008. the wachtell lipton lawyers and i gave it fights to mr. price. everyone involved included the disclosure of the projected losses was not wanted. there were a number of reasons. first because the materials announcing the merger in the proxy statement did not contain any projections are estimates of merrill lynch's future performance there was no legal duty to update fest disclosures about future performance. merrill lynch's erlandson performance put investors on
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notice that merrill might well suffer multibillion-dollar losses in the fourth quarter. or the 12 month period beginning with the fourth quarter of 2007 merrill lynch had experienced after-tax losses of approximately $22 billion for an average quarterly after-tax loss of more than $5 billion. the proxy statement and other disclosure documents clearly informed investors that the unprecedented adverse marketing business conditions continue to impact merrill lynch-lee. finally there were also many highly publicized events that were warning signs to investors that financial institutions would remain under great stress and might continue to incur significant losses including among others the near failure of bear stearns, the collapse of lehman brothers the government's rescue of aig and the government's extraordinary actions to authorize the expenditure of the $700 billion to try and save the financial system. moreover the estimates were based on part i guess is that's what the loss will ultimately be.
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it is obvious in hindsight that if either the 5 billion or the 7 billion-dollar loss estimates of which i was informed had been publicly disclosed to shareholders at that time shareholders would have been misled as these estimates turned out to be wildly incorrect. no one suggested to me that the losses were expected to reach $15 billion as they ultimately did. with regard to my departure from bank of america amy brinkley, the chief risk of a surprise me on december 10, 2008 that ken lewis decided to replace me as general counsel. ms. brinkley said i was being terminated effective immediately and that i was to leave the premises immediately. i had never been fired from any job and i had never heard of the general counsel the major company being summarily dismissed for no apparent reason. i cannot tell you why i was fired. i don't know. after i left bank of america on december 10 i was never consulted about any of the
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matters i had been working on. i cannot tell you what legal it buys the company received after i was gone. i can assure the committee that at all times i acted in good faith to provide legal advice that i believe to be appropriate, considered and in the best interest of bank of america and its shareholders. i did my best to be a good, careful an honest lawyer. i would be pleased to answer any questions that members may have. >> thank you very much mr. mayopolous. mr. moynihan. >> good morning and thank you mr. chairman, congressman issa, subcommittee chairman kucinich, ranking member georgia and the rest of the committee. i serve as the president of global consumer small business bank of america. prior to that job they served in many capacities including running the group that merrill lynch came into in january of 2009. i also serve as bank of america's general counsel and prior to that as deputy general counsel for a predecessor
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company and prior to that i was a lot harder and private practice in specialize in emerging acquisitions, securities law and other matters relating in particular to the financial sector.@@@@@@ >> our acquisition of merrill lynch prevented a financial collapse last winter. the deal turned up to be a good deal for shareholders and their customers. more importantly, it turned up to be a good deal for taxpayers. we acted in good faith. let me turn to my first point -- you hear from constituents as we hear from our customers as to the challenges they face in this economy. bankamerica is doing all they can to help them. we understand the public expects that of us.
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as we recently announced in our quarterly lending and investment report, we have extended $759 billion in loans since our first report late last year. that represents $17 for every dollar of financial assistance we received. 17 for every dollar of financial assistance we've received. making home loans is a priority for our company. in the first nine months, 2009, we've made almost $300 billion in home loans available to over a million customers. we've also made $255 billion of credit available to large and small businesses. in addition to that, we've made $26 billion in credit available to other nonprofits. all these figures don't include the $1.5 trillion that was committed to invest in low and moderate income communities around our country. and also don't include the $200 billion in support of the right to charitable organizations on a yearly basis. i now turn to my second point. the point of topic at today's hearing. i think is important to keep one
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topic in mind today. although the merrill lynch transaction and merrill lynch itself as a company company was severely impacted by the worst dislocation of the financial market has seen since the great depression, our acquisition of merrill lynch is a success. first, the acquisition is provided a great benefit to our customers. a stable bank of america merrill lynch platform can simply provide more capital to more businesses in these tough times. second, the taxpayers are also benefited. from i. sounder financial system and more directly in the form of reap turning on their investments. third, closing the transaction in december 2008 was in the best interest of the financial system, the economy, and the country. as the committee asserted prior testimony, merrill lynch in 2008 particularly on the lehman brothers and other financial firms would have exacerbated the economic topic that our country
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faced. i'm proud that bank of america stepped forward. bank of america cooperated and will continue to cooperate with this committee to help develop a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding this transaction. the record created by the testimony and those documents shows, and i held my testimony today will help further demonstrates that there are the deliberations to merrill lynch, around the acquisition, bank of america acted in good faith and with other premier law firms to address very difficult issues. his newspeople on a complex issue acted in an open and honest manner. all the parties involved, including the lawyers, did their best to merit these complex questions in a time of great stress and in the face of unprecedented economic conditions. thank you for the opportunity to make the statement and i'm pleased to answer your questions. >> thank you very much mr. moynihan. mr. gifford.
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[inaudible] [inaudible] >> i'm sorry. i assume i don't need to go again, mr. chairman? thank you. i would really like to make two observations at this point. first, i believe that bank of america merrill lynch combination is already bearing fruit. merrill lynch has been created to bank of america earnings for the year to date and a systemic to win the board to approve the merger are already beginning to take hold. although it is fair to say, i had a number roving questions
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about the transaction at the start. i firmly believe that over the long haul merrill lynch will continue to be an important contributor to bank of america's profitability. second, as someone who is and its entire professional career in the bank in fact your, i can attest to the financial crisis of 2008 was simply unprecedented in its depth, threat, and velocity. even in the midst of it, prediction of how bad it would get consistently understated the scope, the severity, and its duration. our government elected appointed officials took bold action and made extraordinary decisions to stabilize the financial system. for these measures, those of us in the banking industry should be grateful. i want to take this opportunity to personally say thank you to the american people. as the process of the recovery moves forward, admittedly
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slowly, we have bank of america will always remind -- remain mindful of what was done to stabilize our system and of our important role in helping these decisions at work for our customers families, businesses, and investors. thank you for the opportunity to participate and i too look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much mr. gifford. we were caught off guard with your shortness. that's unusual around here. we generally have to stop people. mr. may. >> german towns >> is your might gone? >> ranking member jordan my name is tom may. i am chairman president and ceo of and start a massachusetts-based public utility holding company and i've been a member of the bank of america board of directors since
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2004. i also appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss bank of america acquisition of merrill lynch. i like to associate myself with the remarks of mr. gifford and mr. moynihan so i can be briefed also. they bank of america, merrill lynch merger is working is in no small part to our extraordinary associates. we all remain mindful of the extraordinary circumstances the global financial system based in late 2008. the assistance we received to complete the merrill merger and the commitment we made at that time to the american taxpayers. we look forward to fulfilling those commitments. and to ensuring that bank of america and merrill lynch continue to provide exceptional value to our customers and our investors. i also am pleased to answer any questions you may have today. >> thank you very much you want to thank all of you for your
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testimony. let me begin with you let me begin with you on december 1, 2008, did you tell bank of america cfo joe price they did not think inc. of america could back out of the merrill lynch bill? >> yes, mr. chairman, i gave that advice. >> were you fired nine days after giving the device quite >> yes, mr. chairman, i was. >> do you know why you were fired? >> no, mr. chairman i don't know why i was fired. i don't know that anything to do with the advice i gave her my kid or something else. i don't know why it was fired i wasn't given an explanation. >> did you at any point have a conversation with ann lewis talking about your role after the merger of bank of america and merrill lynch good at any point to talk to you about what your role would be after that? >> yes, mr. chairman, after we negotiated the merger he told me personally i would be the
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general counter the combined company following the merger. >> but it didn't happen. to no, sir, it didn't. >> let me just move forward to you mr. moynihan. just to make sure i'm clear, did anyone in the government forced bank of america to go through with the steel? >> no, sir. >> no one in the government? >> no. >> we know much more now about the mac and this entire deal than we did last summer. if you believe there was something material about the merrill deal that made you want to back out of it, why didn't you think it was material to the average american who is thinking about buying some of your stock in this closing at publicly? >> mr. chairman, when i became general counsel and we looked at the 18 billion-dollar loss we were facing at merrill lynch, we believed we had a valid claim
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for mac. it would rise when we had to disclose which was later when we announced earnings in january. >> then you're sitting next to mr. mayopoulos. let me ask you a question. did you think he was a good lawyer? >> yes, sir, i did. >> did you think it made sense to fire someone who had been the top lawyer for the previous five years especially right in the middle of one of the biggest deals in bank of america's history? didn't do feel uncomfortable with that? >> mr. chairman, the times that we're going through in december 2000 night as we were downsizing the company dramatically and we were changing our executives were terminated, which is terrible and terrible times to go through, but part of the economic stress. the changes that were made in
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the context of us changing the numbers of senior executives we had a cousin of the common stress we render. it's a tough thing to go through. it's part of his mess and i think it's what made the decision. >> i want you to repeat one thing. there's question about the government involvement here. the government did not pressure you at any point to do anything he did not want to do? >> i did not personally feel at any point pressure by the government to do something that was not in the best interest. >> thank you very much. mr. gifford, the committee has obtained to e-mail you sent regarding the bank of america deal with merrill lynch. in one of those e-mails you used the phrase screw the shareholders. screw the shareholders. and in the other you expressed disagreement with the way bank of america approved mergers. can you tell us anymore about what you had in mind when he wrote those e-mails?
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is there anything else you can tell us? >> again, mr. chairman, i'm not terribly proud of the choice of words to be sure. the first reference to an e-mail as i recall, the middle of january, it happened during the middle of a board meeting and exchange with a very good friend and we were being rather informal, as the words might suggest. and we were going back and forth and it was during that meeting that we were announcing earnings for january for the fourth quarter in the year, which were certainly unsatisfactory. and we knew we'd have a very negative effect on share price. we also eliminated even in down to a penny. what i was doing, for me, my holdings in bank of america are very significant to me and my family. and so, you took the little out of context. the actual expression or the actual line was unfortunately,
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it's also screw the shareholders. i don't like saying that word in public alone. what i was doing is expressing the it for all shareholders. >> mr. may and mr. gifford. ken lewis told this committee that he and the board ultimately decided to go through with the merrill deal because it was in the best interest of the company. do you agree that buying merrill lynch was in the best interest of bank of america? >> yes, i do, sir. back in september when the board was first resented with this opportunity, after many probing questions i'm a dad, because these are difficult times. it was not a slam dunk transaction. long-term strategic benefits were such that i voted for the transaction. >> i also voted for the transaction and to this day still feel that it is a
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tremendous combination of two wonderful companies. [inaudible] thank you mr. chairman. and thank you both for doing your kurdish eerie duty. i'm sure it was not easy as ten and $18 billion of unexpected losses piled up in the middle of a merger. i've done a few acquisitions in my day and still set on the board of my company and i wouldn't want to try to decide whether to pull the trigger or not pull the trigger with so many people on both sides. and particularly at a time when secretary paulson, president bush himself were up here on the hill telling us there was a crisis and if we didn't vote money and a matter of hours, the world as we know it was going to come to an end. and of course as you know it never comes to an end in washington because we just print money. we've had no layoffs. mr. moynihan, it was a pricey but government don't match by
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130,000 new employees just as administration took office. we don't feel your pain. let me go through a couple -- that the record straight. if we could put up slide one. slide one when they get that there is hard to read, but it @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ slide 3 -- and paulson made it clear the treasury and the fed were prepared to deliver an assistance package. hank made it clear that he had concurrence of the fed and tim geithner and others. he also stated that the
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nightmare and larry summers -- and tim geithner will and larry summers were both on board. those were the words of a catalyst for its life for -- then says $43 billion of tarp available, obama agrees. member.-- slide five incoming team at fed and treasury in agreement. this is from another board member not to your comment tim sloan of your board. slide five, i'm sorry slide six. you have our commitment that this will be resolved. you will get some additional investment, eric ross, via a lawyer. questions for you gentlemen. none of these are in dispute here today.
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none of the testimony that we've had up until now disputes the fact that in various ways than new york bank chairman tim geithner was in the loop because this was after he was after the likely and in fact now with the secretary. knowing all of this, do you believe today that if the money had not been made available, and this is for the board members primarily, in the form of a loan or in this case a loan through preferred stock with interest, you believe that you would have likely pulled the mac and disputed going through with the deal at the current cost based on the 18 billion losses? >> and mr. gifford would like you to answer that because your career has been in banking. if you take $18 billion out of your balance sheet and not have the fdic coming and take you
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out, isn't that a real concern that you would've had to deal with? >> ranking member isaiah, it was a confusing time for sure. i can tell you that as we learned, as we the board originally on december 19th of the growing and very significant losses of merrill lynch. management to present to the board the opportunity to exercise the privileges of a mac, material after exchange cause, and get out of transaction because of how much damage had been, if you will, in vote on merrill lynch. we then talked later with mr. lewis, we'd be in the board, a few days later. he expressed the fact that the government thought it would be a major mistake for us to walk away. they thought it would be a systemic, very dangerous systemically and very dangerous and not positive at all for the
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bank. >> let me just interrupt you. deep he expressed that if you walked away and they needed help later at the fed wasn't going to be there for you? >> no, he didn't. he expressed the sentiment and there was another session later in the month that the government wouldn't provide financing. there's nothing in writing, that it was for very senior officials of the government that one would believe would follow through. the details were not reviewed with the board. i can tell you as a member of the board of directors, i can only speak as one person, the issue was relatively clear to me. in a perfect world, it would've been better to walk away. >> sure. one last question for the two of you very quickly. as ceos, business leaders who have had general consoles, don't you normally require two things, your general counsel to be on a statement, which you take his legal advice, but don't you need to have at all times a general consul who is on board with your
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leadership decisions? >> a general counsel was on board with their leadership decisions? >> in other words, would you keep a general counsel was constantly telling you not to do what you party decided to do from a business standpoint? >> and a member of the board has to make up their own mind. you would like to be in a position that general counsel is going to provide good counsel. >> mr. may? >> i agree with that totally. >> i yield five minutes to the gentleman from ohio, congressman kucinich. >> i ask unanimous consent to enter in the record documents that will be part of this. >> without objection so ordered. >> mr. mayopoulos, as general counsel at bank of america you determine whether or not the bank made additional disclosures to shareholders to update its proxy solicitation. what threshold of quarterly losses would have led you to recommend additional disclosure to shareholders before the vote?
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wasn't that threshold anything above a 10 billion-dollar forecast quarterly loss likes >> congressman, the historical experience at merrill lynch or the prior four quarters that it had quarter losses ranging from 2 billion to $10 billion. certainly as he got to $10 billion or higher after-tax losses i think the case for disclosure became much more compelling. >> you stayed in your testimony that you received a copy of a forecast dated november 12. the information in a plate or role in your collaboration about making additional disclosure about the financial situation at merrill lynch. let's look at the november 12 forecast you received. staff is very provided the gentleman with a copy of what we're talking about here. merrill lynch is most liquid and volatile asset be default swaps
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and subprime mortgage-backed securities were tracked in the rose mark significant items, total marks. now if you follow that across the column entitled bpg which stands for balance to go, or the estimate of performance for the remainder of the quarter, and that ray highlighted box there are no numbers there. is that correct? >> there are no numbers there. >> so there is no objection for other liquid assets that we're losing a lot of money at the time. when my staff asked merrill lynch's cfos if they produced the spreadsheet way forecast would contain no projections were these assets. he told us that this document was not intended to be a valid forecast despite its title. mr. mayopoulos, did you notice that omission and did you ever question whether or not the november 12 forecast document
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was a valid forecast? >> representative, no one ever told me this is not a valid forecast. i was informed -- >> that they know lex i need to move on. those notes were added and we understand by banc of america's treasure treasure to the merrill lynch work as document on the morning of november 13. they were intended to help fill in the omission noted above. can you read those lines allowed? >> there's a line that says minus 075 from oci to pml. >> i'm referring to the line that says neil's gut. was your understanding at the time -- do you see that? okay, so what was your understanding at the time? was that in reference to his gut feeling? >> there was a 1 billion-dollar
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contingency in a 5 billion-dollar forecast and that seems to correspond to the neil's gut line there. >> he said the november 12 forecast was of questionable but let it be. he also said he did not have time to delve deeply into the details of the forecast. did you know that he did not delve deeply into the details of the forecast before a billion-dollar debt on neil's gut was added to it? >> no, sir. >> did it create in your concern that there might be a number pulled out of the air, a gut feeling? >> i understood this was in some part a guess. >> my understanding is he did not transmit the november 12 document to the attorneys at wachtell looked in. q. is the individual who relayed the information to the outside counsel. but the october losses were
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7 billion that merrill lynch could break even allowing you to spread octobers loss allowing you to spread the losses over two months or >> no, sir, i don't recall that. if you look at the documents here you are quoted into members of the committee as saying that in a conversation with nicholas demo that you said that merrill lynch lost 7 billion so far in october. how do we get the number up and also in the meeting notes of the wachtell lipton meeting your comments are mentioned again relating to the 7 billion-dollar number. now, when he spoke with your attorneys that wachtell lipton did you recall telling them that the fourth-quarter forecast received graham merrill lynch omitted november, december projections for cbs, cbs, and subprime mortgage securities which alone lost 7 --
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6.4 billion in october? >> no, sir. i received a forecast from the finance department and are described for them what the bottom line numbers were. >> mr. mayopoulos, do you know what the quarterly loss turned out to be? >> for the fourth quarter, it was $15.3 billion after taxes. >> in conclusion, mr. chairman, the loss is acknowledged. just two weeks after the shareholder vote were well above the threshold, that would have led you to rep command additional disclosure. in fact, inc. of america extrapolated into november and december you would've come pretty close to the actual magnitude of losses for the quarter, but neither merrill lynch nor bank of america did not order either financial did that. they relied on someone's gut feeling. i yield back. >> thank you very much. i yield five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman.
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last fall you make a decision in the circumstances and in the midst of all that tarmac will passive direct testimony we got for mr. lewis earlier this year. he indicated after t.a.r.p past. they were told they needed to accept t.a.r.p money and make the calls to do that. in the midst of all this last fall you looked to exercise the mac too, in my judgment, put more judgment on merrill because they were losing more than you initially thought. do you want to get a better deal went to businesses do all the time. the government said no to that. in fact, based on testimony we've heard, even though mr. moynihan in answering the chairman question said it differently. based on what we've heard there was some kind of at least subtle pressure placed on bank of america to go through with the deal. in fact, we have the letter from the attorney general that says
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the mr. lewis and the board would be gone if they did not follow through on the merrill board. you saw a assurance as mr. iser pointed out in his question from the incoming players, blakely of players in the obama administration. you actually saw them writing. our assumption is you got some kind of verbal assurances to proceed further with this. so let me just ask a couple questions. is that in fact the case that you received assurances in some form, other than writing, and the likely folks to be involved in the obama in the station at the treasury department. that if in fact things got worse, they would be there with additional t.a.r.p dollars to help bank of america. and we can go right on the list. i'd like a gas or no to that if we could. mr. moynihan i'll start with you.
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>> we received from mr. paulson and ben bernanke that we had to group through it that if we went forward that we would receive some sort of assistance which we finally negotiated and actually closed in january 2009. as to the statements of the incoming administration. i think mr. lewis has testified that in his conversations with those people he was told that they had heard about the transaction. i was not part of those discussions. >> so i just want to be clear, was there a promise made from the incoming obama administration that they would be there to back you up if in fact i was what's bank of america needed? >> i don't know that because i was only told what mr. lewis' conversation was. >> mr. gifford? mr. may? mr. mayopoulos? >> i was aware of no such promise. >> neither was i.
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>> were you aware of assurances? >> as i understood it, from our chief executive, he was told -- and he related that to@@@@@@@ >> how much tarp money as bank of america received? >> we have received $45 billion. >> you said this was a good deal and worked out for the shareholders. what is your cash position today? >> our cash excess is around $250 billion. >> have you paid back the tarp
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money? >> no. >> why haven't debated back? -- why haven't you paid it back? what is preventing new if you have $150 billion in excess cash and you owe the taxpayers, why hasn't been paid back? position and over taxpayers of this country $45 billion. why hasn't it been paid back? >> you can look at the guidelines. it takes a series of steps. >> if you could would you pay it back? >> if we could we would. we have been cleared of our intention to pay back. >> in your judgment hindrances are obstacles that the obama administration is putting in place that are preventing you from paying it back? >> i think the question that the government is looking at the system to make sure we can stabilize the economy which is the intention and as i said earlier we've done a good job of doing that.
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and i think -- >> in your professional judgment why -- i mean, why -- white the hindrances? why can't you get the money back to the federal government to pay the taxpayers? >> we have to be sure if we do that the economy is in the shade and for a company like ours which supports america around the world, business is -- >> would you agree in october we were in the highest deficit in a single month deficit in history last fiscal year of the highest single deficit in history? wouldn't you think the new administration would want that money to get back to the treasury and help the situation? >> you would have to ask them that, our intention -- >> the gentleman's time is expired. i want you to pull the mic closer. we have some senior citizens having trouble listening. [laughter] yes, i would yield to the gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. moynihan, i find your
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testimony very troubling, and i don't know have got to tell you i find some of the things you have said not too be legal. first of all, the chairman asked you why mr. mayopolous was fired, a seasoned attorney was fired nine days after he gave an opinion and you basically said you all suddenly got into downsizing fever; is that why? is that basically what you're saying? you were downsizing? >> i said i wasn't personally involved in the decision -- >> you replace him, didn't you? >> decided. >> i remind you you were under oath, what did they tell you was the reason he was fired? >> he took the lead, asked me to take the job as general counsel and i said i would take the job. >> you didn't answer my question. i said perdue told -- york
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replacing somebody, you haven't practiced in years and or replacing somebody who's a seasoned attorney who had just given an opinion that apparently mr. lewis did not like or others did not like and you mean you are walking into a job and say what happened to the last guy? that's a logical question. >> that's absolutely a logical question -- >> and what did you -- did you find out what did you ask the question first of all, but did you know? >> i didn't ask the question and i went about -- >> you didn't care? >> i care about mr. mayopolous as a person but none of this direct to my job. >> if you were downsizing bank of america where you say to the management of the told you they wanted to fire their in-house counsel and replace them with a senior business executives who while a experienced attorney had not practiced law in ten years and was not even license that time, would you advise them to make that move?
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>> i think if the decision was made for me to be general counsel i think it was unwise move on behalf of the company and i was competent to do it. >> that's very interesting. now let me ask you this; you had an opportunity to talk to our staff, did you not? >> decided, sir. >> and you believe that there was a mac, is that right? and at the time did you talk to the committee staff comedy produced no evidence with regard to why you had that opinion. do you have any evidence today? >> representative, the evidence is in the fourth quarter of 2008 merrill lynch lost $20 billion it was not clear they would be able to use the tax benefits. that was twice as much as they made as a company and completely depleted their capital by 50%. and so therefore that was a material change in their circumstances to our money at the level they were supposed to was impaired by their capital of
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going down. >> now that was inconsistent with the law firm wachtell and what mr. mayopolous said, was that inconsistent? in other words, you fire a big law firm and had general counsel and then you come in, you haven't practiced law in ten years and you come along and say i feel this is a good time, so i'm trying to figure out how to get their? >> i rely on wachtell lipton. we had a valid claim for back and i also relied on my experience in dealing with clauses and having taken part deals for the clauses in my experience in the past the deals i had done as attorney and business person, and we were of the same opinion that this was a $21 billion of losses, this was a material change in the circumstance of merrill lynch that we had to address. >> that we get to mr. mayopolous
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because apparently he had a different opinion. >> is that what mr. dee dee, speed wachtell said? that's not what they told you, is it? >> we didn't have any conversations with wachtell about the adverse exchange calls. >> mr. gifford, this is the fallout mr. moynihan is one of the people you are considering to take mr. list's please; is that right? >> that's what i read in the new speaker. >> what do you mean? >> we have tried very hard, congressman cummings, not to be talking publicly about individuals. >> the fact is the reason i'm talking about -- i'm just trying to figure out is this the guy that we have got to face when we are trying to deal with bank of america, when we have got $45 billion invested in a company? i'm just trying to figure out is this the face that we are going to be facing? >> and i responding -- >> i'm not asking for your decision, i'm asking if he's one of your top candidates. >> he is a very talented
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executives at bank of america. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you. i now yield to mr. meijer. >> it indicates you informed mr. price bank of america didn't have the basis for invoking mac. what was the basis of the decision? >> the basis of the decision was in order for there to be material adverse change there had to be an event that occurred that had a disproportionate impact on merrill lynch in contrast to other companies in the industry including bank of america. and as i discussed with mr. price, the stock price of bank of america had declined almost as much as merrill lynch's. bankamerica had gone out and raised substantial capital. they cut its dividend. its earnings had been reduced. so basically both companies have suffered significant downturns in their prospects in the time since the merger had been
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announced. >> was the information that you had -- did you not have the information that mr. moynihan had with regards to the 21 billion-dollar loss? at the time that you made your advisory opinion to mr. price? >> that is correct, i did not have that information. >> if you had known that what would your advice be at the time? >> i believe my advice would have been all the way don't have all the information the company had at that time since i was on my view would have been that invoking material adverse change calls would be dangerous and risky prospect, but i didn't have the information and i didn't study that question. >> so when you're seeing is you would have gone with saying that the mac would have been a very viable way to invoke mac? >> no, sir, i'm not seeing that. i'm saying i think it would be a very difficult decision to invoke them to the adverse exchange clause. i would have suggested the company said with merrill lynch and try to renegotiate price but
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if that didn't work i don't know that i would have threatened to invoke a material adverse exchange clause. >> do you believe that the reason that the mac was eventually then used as a bargaining chip, or was it used as a bargaining chip in your judgment, to extract a better price from the government? >> congressman, i don't know what it is used for. i wasn't -- i was never privy to any of the discussions. i was gone. >> okay. on ljungqvist line also, obviously during the documentation and here in the testimony there is the threat to fire mr. lewis as well as the entire board. can you tell me, any of you gentlemen tell me the circumstances under which they had the authority to do that and the circumstances under which they believed u.s. border and mr. lewis as chairman were doing something wrong that they could fire you for?
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>> i think the discussion about that is reflective of the very serious circumstances that we faced in december 2008. the economy was in a total -- >> they were going to fire you for the economy? >> the the economy was in disarray. the regulators were serious about also thinking of the pros and cons and using our judgment are around the mac and we would do as a company. and i always took that as a view of how serious the situation and how serious to think about it. we were prepared for was the right interest for our shareholders to exercise the mac in respect of what would happen to mr. gifford and outside the board. >> the answer does not fly with me. you cannot tell me bank of america is going to cause the entire economy to go down if they don't do this and you're going to replace your entire board of the german? you expect me to believe that? >> the point is i think if we felt we had to be removed if the government said that we have to be removed that did not factor into our decision. >> so basically were exporting
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your decision to go along and accept merrill lynch as a partner, business partner; is that what you're saying? >> what i'm saying is we did not let that factor into the decision of who the best shareholder was. >> congressman luetkemeyer, we heard on i believe it was december 22nd besio reporting to the board that the government secretary paulson had made clear that the government felt very strongly that these transactions should continue. it was in the best interest of the american financial system as well as bank of america. and we also heard the comment if it doesn't happen there is a risk to members of the board and management keeping their jobs. i can assure you, sir, as much as i care about the american financial system our job is representing shareholders. and then did not one iota factor in the decision that awfully and i believe my coleworts meet in proceeding with a transaction to do so would be just directly
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dishonor in our fiduciary responsibility and we made that clear in our discussions of the board. >> one more quick question before my time expires. obviously, mr. moynihan, you testified they lost -- merrill lynch lost $1 billion. can you tell me with the problems were, why you lost the money and how the problems have been rectified now that bank of america owns the company. >> the problems were due to the markdowns of securities and other things there were going on in december of 2008 as the markets continue to deteriorate to the were rectified because merrill lynch makes money, but the context of that is merrill lynch being owned by bank of america with a stable capital base and ability to keep its balance sheet is now able to produce the kind of money and do the kind of things for the customers which are strong. but in december, 2008 -- >> are they still involved in a lot of the investment derivatives tied the activity that caused the problems? >> they continue to trade with clients. i think a lot of their legacy
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decisions you hear people talk about are not being renewed or running off as we speak. but i think it is a much more straightforward and clear and less risky platform than >> "washington journal" is next with the day's news and your phone calls and the house is in session at 10:00 eastern. the agenda includes a bill of adjust medicare payments for doctors. and agriculture secretary tom vilsack will take your questions about hunger in the west. we will future -- will focus on the future. we will preview the congressional budget office
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report and the senate health care bill. we will be joined by a senate historian to discuss the career of west virginia senator robert byrd who becomes of the longest serving member of congress today. "washington journal" is next. . host: the fund-raiser is reported to be for brown's run
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up the governorship. i want to talk to you about the health-care debate. the head of the harvard medical school kids a failing grade to the debate on health care. in that spirit, we want to ask you have you with great the health-care debate. give us a letter grade and then tell us why. how we do great the health-care debate? -- how would you grade the health-care debate? jeffrey fly yer is the guest op ad. she writes the dean of medical school, i am frequently asked the rate of the health-care debate.
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he says speeches can lead you to believe that proposed legislation would tackle the problems, but that is not true. the various goals -- the various bills do deal with access by expanding medicaid in mandating subsidize insurance at a substantial cost, and thus addresses an important social goals. likewise, nearly all agreed that the legislation would do little or nothing to improve the quality or change healthcare's dysfunctional delivery system. we want to get your thoughts on the health-care debate. the head of harvard medical school saying he would give it a
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failing grade. give it a better grade and tell us why. here are the numbers. democrats: 202-737-0002 republicans: 202-737-0001 independents: 202-628-0205 we will take a few minutes to get an update on where the health-care debate is going. laurie montgomery joining us from "the washington post." we are expecting an estimate this week. deo you know where we stand on those numbers? >guest: it is not quite clear when we will get the numbers. the bill itself as written by harry reid should be released around that time.
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harry reid did say yesterday he is putting together what he called the best bill ever, and it will be the lowest cost. that suggested is less than the senate finance bill, which costs around $129 billion. host: there is a story this morning about mr. reed's optimism when it comes to getting the 60 votes. what is he basing this on? guest: the representative from arkansas is nervous. they are having difficulty getting her to commit to this. host: the papers mentioned two other senators. ben nelson of nebraska and the senator from louisiana.
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what happens to their support for health-care? guest: i think the problem is getting the 60 votes from clinton to go forward. the other two have not voted in final passage. -- i think the problem is getting the 60 votes from lincoln going forward. nelson is opposed to the class act. she is also concerned at all the form of the public option. blanche lincoln does as well,
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even though she endorsed the public option at one point. host: walked us through the rest of the week as far as procedure is concerned. guest: the democratic senators will caucus leaders this afternoon. harry reid will emerge or not he merge with the votes he needed to proceed. he will file a motion on this to proceed. we expect that to happen today. how the motion to proceed could happen as soon as friday, though they say it could go into saturday. then they would have to have the actual vote. as debates begin, there is talk about leaving the senate floor opened over the thanksgiving holiday because some republicans have threatened to read the entire bill.
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they could wind up leaving a few people here as everyone else goes home, along with very unfortunate thatstaff people . host: there is a talk about filibuster. is that still on the table? guest: that goes without saying. that is why we need 60 votes to get on the floor. beyond that, i will have to see. host: think you for your time this morning, lori montgomery. give us a letter grade on the health-care debate. the head of harvard medical
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school gives it a failing grade. caller: i am afraid i would have to get degive it a "d." the reason why is very few of the substantive issues were discussed. there was a reluctance of members on both sides to get out and talk about the bill. i took the liberty of reading the bill. i read the bill that came out from all of the committees and the amendments and watched the markups. i did the same thing on the house. i talked to health-care providers and ask them what they thought. that kind of discussion, which we need in the health-care discussion, did not occur. host: is that the chief subject of this, the hpublic option?
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caller: i have to say on the republican side, especially with the senate finance markmarked u, some of the comments made about meeting certain types of health care that would be relative to women when more than half of the population of the country is the milk, shows us shortsightedness. -- when more than half of the population of the country is female. host: next caller. caller: single payer is the goal of the health care reform. if you will have to define
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economic louaw, and monopolies guarantee to things, or prices and lower quality. -- higher prices and lower quality. how could you claim that you want to improve health care what your policies will do just opposite, and we know that from history? it is not the opinion, it is fact. we know what is going to happen. host: turn around and give your letter grade. caller: "f-." host: good morning, virginia on the independent line. caller: i give the dit a "f." i think if we have a monopoly
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with the government, that would be bad. how would like to have my own debate with anyone who would talk to me. my daughter just came home from living in france. what they do in sweden is they collect the money centrally and give it to each community between 60,002 million people. they let them spend the money and they have committed the health care. -- and they have a community health care. everyone gets health care, including illegal aliens. care is our right. host: greg sandisk gives his thought. -- grag sanders gives his thought. -- drake sanders.
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caller: i have to give it a "c +." the democratic party is not fighting forward with enthusiasm like the republican party is fighting against it. there is no compassion of the democratic side. the republican party, they are fighting with heart. the republicans, they have back- to-back people against it. the democratic party are in their ozone land. they should be right there on the floor. they should be right there and
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they do not. host: we will continue on the health-care debate as we ask you to grade it. goldman sachs apologizing for pledges. it says the company apologizes for their role in the financial crisis. they pledged 500 million over five years. this will help 10,000 small businesses recover from recession. the goldman chief executive held a conference in new york. he said we participated in things that are clearly wrong and have reason to regret this. we apologize. he also said he wished they had not told the paper that goldman did awhid god's work, and had bn
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meant as a joke km. . next joke. caller. how would you grade the health- care debate? caller: i would give in-dept a " it is only going to cover 6 million people the way it is written up in the senate bill. i do not like the way that they argue about things. the republicans like and democrats do not tell the whole truth. -- republicans lie. host: niagara falls, new york. independent line. john, go ahead.
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caller: i think it is unconscionable that either side allows allows the equivalent of 9/11 every 40 days, the number of people dying, 44,000 per year, the equivalent of a 9/11 in this country approximately every 40 days. how can they let it go? how can america let any of these people stay in office without doing something for america? host: what grade would you give a? caller: i give it a failing grade. host: democrats line is next. richard, good morning. caller: good morning. i give this current health care
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fiel andd an "h" for hypocrisy. there are members of congress that are on medicare. 55 are against the public option. medicare is a single pay year government run health care system, yet 55 members of congress, republicans, are all against the public option. if you want the list, check out representative anthony wieners website from new york. host: he was a guest on the program a couple of weeks ago. you can go to c-span.org for information on legislative efforts, a lot of information regarding the health-care
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debate. i would invite you to go there for more as we followed this issue. this is looking at eric holder or who appears before the senate to talk about several issues, including the announcement of trials in new york for 9/11 conspirators. he will most likely face difficult discussions, about whether federal investigators mishandled information about the fort hood shooting suspects contacts with a radical cleric group. we want to let you know that you can watch the starting at 9:30 a.m. today. it will be on c-span 3. eric holder before the senate judiciary committee.
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santa barbara, california. republican line. linda, good morning. caller: i wish you could get c- span 3 here. one thing i noticed was that the washington post reporter who was describing the process noted that the republicans who would still the star region would sylvest-- would filabuster. i was assuming she was a reporter, but then i thought if she a member of the senate? the way she phrased it was
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strange to me. as far as what both of the republicans and democrats are doing, the senate and the congress, i give them a "f." they are short sighted. they have not even thought about what progress we may have made in 10 years in medicine if they would stop arguing about old and tired practices and put some money towards true, basic research showed that we do not have this inefficient and ridiculous health care system that we have now. host: portland maine, you are
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next. caller: i have to give the debate a "f/g.: " all that we see in the media is the insurance company misleading the american people. there is no response in the media from the democrats. when you combine that fact with the fact that you have democrats like nelson to are really sabotaging the process, we expect the republicans to be against this, but to have had the democratic party majority in the senate and to see that this might not even come to be debated on the floor, it is just
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a travesty. especially when you consider the fact that the senators are getting government run health care themselves. host: do not forget you can follow us on twitter, http://twitter.com/cspanwj. mike rights it deserves a "d." maryland on our democrats line. good morning. caller: i give it a "c." i have to say that my democratic party is not fighting hard enough. anytime you have a whole republican party and they have all their people fighting against their own interests but
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willing to go down with the republican party, all of the democrats are not aboard. that is a shame. host: what do you think has to be done to change that? caller: i wish i knew. i swear they are really not working with the president. it is a shame. we expected to do so much. he is the president cannot pass the bills without them. yet, when it is time for its them to get reelected, they expect him to campaign for them. they are not doing their job. they are in the majority, but they're not together. host: had you been following your own legislators' efforts? caller: yes, i have a.
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i followed them every day. i let my feelings be known. i have accepted the public option. i am a nurse for 43 years. i do not get how all of these republicans, and now even that independence, they get their own. host: raleigh, north carolina on the republican line, you are next. caller: i give this a "f." it used to be health insurance was covering catastrophic events. the doctors and health facilities have doubled their prices for people without
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insurance so the insurance company can pay half price and still make money. i think the issue should be brought up that perhaps the government should cover catastrophic illnesses, which accounts for a large percentage and let the insurance companies have a health buying club. host: an article this morning says that a list of hollywood would support a democratic candidates it is not surprising, of holding a fund-raiser for someone who is not officially a candidate indicates just how badly some here want to end years of republican rule in the governor's office. steven spielberg, j.j. abrams, larry ellison, and magic johnson are among the co- founders to hold a fund-raiser
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for jerry brown. its florida, independent line. -- the florida, independent line. are you there? go ahead. caller: "f." i watched the debates on c-span, the house and senate, when it was in the senate finance committee. that is what got me interested. i get all of my information from c-span. i do not listen to the major cable stations. they are skewing their point of view. host: what would have to be done to increase the great?
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-- to increase tehe grade? caller: we sink it is as simple, but it is really not. -- we think it is so simple, but it really is not. the reason our forefathers set up the system is for them to watch each other. when you get a majority the way it is, it is going to get out of hand. part of the reason why health care it is the way it is is because republicans let it get out of hand. they should have had common sense.
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the republicans were in charge. they should have reformed health care. they manipulated. host: one more call. oregon line. democrats line. caller: i give ita a "f-." i do not know why the government thinks the sun rises and sets off of their heinie. medicare is falling apart. medicaid is falling apart. we are 105 trillion dollars in debt. how much do we expect our government to get done for us,
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sandisk we expect it, we are cool. -- and if we do expect it, we are fooled. take it a step at a time. bring in tort reform. does anybody check out the commercials on tv? second of all, let us have a free market with insurance. people complain about insurance companies, and guess who they are regulated by? at the state. listen to the doctors, and quit setting up monopolies. i think there are two patriots
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and the democratic and republican party. we need to start operating like the united states instead of everybody trying to get what their states need. i am from oregon. we get a free ride on this. i do not want anything off of my countrymen's back. i do not need it. host: think you for your participation. up next, we will share from the agricultural secretary, tom vilsack about food security in the united states. we will be right back. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
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>> this weekend the u.s. financial crisis. nomi prins will be on. sunday afternoon, three new books about sarah palin, including a book signing. scott conroy on sarah from alaska. >> american icon, three nights of c-span original documentaries on the iconic homes of the three branches of american government. beginning thursday night at 8:00
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eastern, the supreme court, home to america's highest court, reveals the building in exquisite detail. saturday at 8:00 eastern, the capital. famerican icon, three memorable nights. this day, friday, and saturday at 8:00 eastern on c-span. host: tom vilsack joining us now. what does security mean? guest: suits security -- food
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security means you have difficulty making ends meet and put enough food on the table to feed your family. it may mean cutting back on what you consume. it may mean that you do not eat anything. host: what does it mean for the administration? guest: it is a wake-up call not just to the administration, but to the country. we have 17 million americans that are very food insecurity category. it is a wake-up call for us. when you combined the study at the nutritional value of our school meals program it suggests we have a long way to go to improve the nutritional who value of the meals. it is time for us to focus on a food policy that will expand
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access to food programs, improve the quality of the programs. host: as far as efforts are concerned, the reports this week go back to poverty. guest: when the economy suffers, when people are unemployed, when they find it difficult to be ends meet, they're working several jobs, there spending money on health care, which they would otherwise be spending on food, all of these things combined to make it difficult. we also have to focus on improving our programs and making it easier to qualify. in a sense that not having people go through a complicated application process. host: streamlining that would be
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part of the process? guest: increasing resources so we can do a better job of improving the quality of the programs. the institute of medicine said it was a wake-up call for the nutritional values. we have a lot of work to do. for years we have basically ignored this issue. we are swept it under the rug. we have indicated it was not a priority. i think the study suggest it needs to be a national priority. host: is it something for charity and faith groups to be involved in? guest: it would be much more difficult if it were not forced the assistance programs. the combination of the churches, eight based organizations, all of us need to get engaged and involved in this. host: hungry in the united
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states is the topic. if you want to ask a question coming here are the numbers -- democrats: 202-737-0002 republicans: 202-737-0001 independents: 202-628-0205 did stimulus money involved itself in this process? guest: it did. we have the s.n.a.p. program. what it is is the food stamps program. it is also an economic stimulus. the resources are spent within the first 30 days of receiving. all of this translates through the value change tin. host: can you give examples of
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what this looks like? guest: if you are in a low food security category, the chances are you may not eat for a long amount of time. if you are an adult, you might not be for many days to make sure your children have sued. -- have food. that is why the breakfast programs and school lunch programs are so important and necessary for us to make sure they reach all the children and do it away with it nutritious meals per day. -- and make sure they do get two nutritious meals per day. in many rural areas there is the difficulty of not having enough money and not having a grocery store anywhere near the
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community. you end up buying process do, which is much more expensive. -- you end up cryibuying procesd food. caller: i would like to ask him about the revolving door between agricultural business and government. i just watched the movie called "the world according to monsanto." what about the gmo's. guest: in terms of the revolving door, the president has been quite clear she is not interested in appointing people in power that the lobby on behalf of businesses that they may be regulating or
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involve twists and their government capacity. i can tell you through we have gone through a very expensive process to make sure there is not the connection you spoke of. with reference to gmo's there is obviously a great debate about this. this gets to the larger question of hunger internationally. we have not just seen an increase in america, but it increase worldwide. 1 billion people today in this globe are malnourished. part of the reason is in developing nations there agriculture or is not have as good as it could be. it's this is something we're trying to work on to provide the appropriate technology and assistance as part of our global initiative. caller: i want to get your
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viewpoint. i am concerned about the small farms are not being supported in the correct way. most of the regulation is promoted to shut down the small farm. what that does to the general population's health health, as far as having poor quality food having very little nutritional value, i think that might be something to ensure that small farms are actually supported and some have made a sustainable business. guest: this is a complicated question. we talk about animal trade
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stability so we can identify the source of the problem -- animal tracibility so we can identify the source of a problem. with reference to small arms, i will tell you that we have created a program called new york farmer, know your -- know your farmer, know your food. we are anxious and interested in try to help local schools who might be able to provide a school breakfast or school lunch with fresh, nutritious food. we believe one way to do that is to create a better link between what is produced locally and consumed locally.
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we are encouraging schools to look at what they might be able to purchase locally, keeping the wealth in the rural community where it is being created, and at the same time improving nutritional value of food that is being served to children. we think it is important for parents and schools to work better, communicate one another -- communicate with one another. i think there is an ongoing effort to address and appreciate the world that small firms play in food production. -- small farms play in food production. there is not specific limitation in terms of food. there are certain types of beabeverage you can have it. in the last 20 years we have seen about 12,000 items per year
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introduced into the grocery store. there is so much choice. a lot of beneficiaries use other supplements. you will not be able to control what people purchase. we think a better way is to educate uphea. we have recipes at the usda.gov website that encourages people to improve and the nutritional value and spend less. it is fairly clear we need to consume more of those bids. our answers are eating far too few at the green vegetables. not as many whole grain breads as they should. at the same time, we are
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consuming more salt and sugar that we probably should. that results in a lot of empty calories. we think we can do a better job. host: jacksonville, florida. your honor independent line. -- on our independent line. caller: i wanted to ask you about a question. i used to drive a truck can call all lot of horse meaand i used f meat. i do this with all different kinds of food products. apple's will go from south carolina to washington. host: we will leave it there. guest: obviously there is a need
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for a transportation system that provides for the opportunity to be able to track goods and services across the country, but we think there needs to be a balance between that and the ability of local producers to also provide. the reason for this is that we had 108,000 new, small farms and open up in america and the last five years. there is obviously an interest in people getting back to the land. we want to encourage that because we want to see that revitalized. it is one of the major initiatives that president obama has. this is a way we can bring a real economic opportunity back to our rural communities. the stimulus program looked at
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the rate of acceleration for the snap program. it is still additional resources and allowing those families to do better than they were doing. at the same time we also increased additional assistance for food banks. we are continuing to purchase commodities. we try to help stretch the dollars. again, it is not just about food, it is also about the possib capacity to utilize rural america. if the youngsters grow up and do not get the nutrition they need, feel the city -- the obesity issue could factor into things like serving in the and
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military. you can do all of the good work you possibly can to increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables. what we are suggesting is giving us the capacity to take a look at what is being sold in vending machines and is encouraged and require schools to basically change the makeup of what is in the that the machine so it is healthy and nutritious food throughout the school environment. caller: tom vilsack, pleasure to get to talk to you finally. there was an article that said 61 words long. despite the protesters, the
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u.s. environmental protection agency approved use of the new highly toxic fume pesticide, mainly for strawberry fields. it is a carcinogen. if they care -- they said the carefully evaluated and approved the use for one year. host: what is the question? caller: there is another article here. let me read that and then i will ask the question. the bush administration stopped the testing of pesticides a few months later. is that why they stopped
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testing? are they still using this? guest: that is a question i wish i had the answer to. that involves a different agency of government. why will take this question back to the office and see if i can find out more about this. host: what role does the united states have and the world food conference held at foa in rome? guest: we will talk about the global food initiative. it is a $22 billion commitment. what it does is goes beyond what we have done in the past, which is to provide food assistance to the rest of the world that is struggling. we think it is important for the united states to support the rest of the world with their
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technical knowledge, information, some of our experts be able to provide exchanges and opportunities for people to learn more about how to become more productive themselves. we think if we're able to do that for example in afghanistan, we might be able to stabilize the economy in a better way. that might be able to enable us to do a better job to get the country back on track. the same thing in haiti. people are having trouble providing for their families. we can provide knowledge that would allow these people to be better farmers. host: do we provide dollars? guest: it is not so much dollars, but using the dollars to further educate their own scientists and farmers about productivity practices.
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it is about testing soil in making sure the fertilizer is the right kind of fertilizer. we went to haiti recently, they have been trying to grope down there and we realized what they were doing was completely counter-productive and the fertilizer process. now we are in a position to help them be more productive. host: jacksonville, florida. you are on our republicans line. caller: can you hear me? host: go ahead. caller: i have three points. my husband and i are senior citizens. we are on social security, but what i am seeing is when we go into the grocery store, we see all whole lot of people that are getting the food stamps. when we buy the groceries the cfood is up higher than what it
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used to be. i cannot understand the hon greenness in the united states. everybody is in the grocery store volume groceries. -- buying pressure is. -- buying groceries. people who are getting nutritious food, are in the grocery store. when we go there, you cannot find anything on the shelves. there is an imbalance there. guest: there is a belief that ethanol production is in some way responsible for the spike in food prices. i think it is fair to say that when s and all went down in
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cost, we did not see any corresponding decrease in prices. when you take a look at corn. the reality is we are so productive we're able to meet energy needs and proteduce enouh food. i really question it there is a correlation. has it relates -- as it relates to the food assistance programs, the sad reality is not everyone knows about the programs or qualifies. many senior citizens who are considered when this, many senior citizens feel it is a matter of pride. we have to break down the barriers. we have to break down the stigma that is attached with receiving assistance. this is about a country making
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sure people have adequate food, nutritious food. we have a new senior citizens -- we have many senior citizens that are suffering the same circumstances as the children we have talked about. the interesting thing is that sometimes the source of the problem is the same. poverty in difficulty with the economy can sometimes be responsible for hundred and one family and obesity in another. simply because how we use our dollars. it may be a result because of the fact there is no force restored -- no grocery store where you live. you have access to highly processed food, that perhaps is not as nutritious as you can get enin the grocery store.
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young youngsters on one study suggested they aren't consuming half of their calories and empty calories. we need to do a better job on educating people on what our necessity somewhaies. we have youngsters that are far too heavy. we have seen a dramatic increase in juvenile diabetes. if we think we have health care problems today, a generation of kids with juvenile diabetes will face serious health issues throughout their lives. host: does your department have role in encouraging schools to provide nutritious of informatifood?
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guest: one of the things we are doing is to provide assistance and help. we are cringe by the fact that there are institutions -- we are encouraged by the fact that there are institutions putting that information. sesame street circulated 3 million books to w.i.c.k participants. it is a manual on what you can do to encourage your kids to eat fruits and vegetables and make it fun. there are ways that we can do this. we really have to do it. we have to do it for our kids. the reality is if youngsters are well fed and supported, they will do better in school. if they do better in school, they will have less difficulty in the future. host: miami is next. robert on our democrats line. caller: good morning.
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i believe the reason for our food crisis is because of the tariffs that the federal government implements. is that so? do we have an import tariff on sugar? therefore, sugar is a large component of our food base. can't the government do something to alleviate the pressure on food prices for the average person? they want to tax sugar on food and things. why throw a double we in thhamme consumer?
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guest: i am not sure about the sugar tax. there is a suggested tax on sugar drinks, and maybe that is what he is suggesting. today we are faced with an interesting dilemma in the country. we have a shortage of refined sugar. the reason for that is the result of storms, some of their refineries had been damaged and they are not as productive. the reality is our trade policy makes it difficult to bring in refined sugar, but not raw sugar but we have more than enough ra w sugar. we are constantly monitoring the issue. i think the issue with food prices is more complicated than that. i think there are issues related to how foods are marketed.
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i think there are lots of considerations of what goes into pricing food. we need to educate people on the nutritious value of the foods that are purchased. there is a reauthorization of the school lunch and breakfast programs. it is opportunity for us to take a look at w.i.c.k. these are ways in which we can provide help and assistance. we do a good job of providing food for youngsters eight or nine months of the year and summer comes and they may go
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home and have a difficult time accessing food. the question is how do we get answers to where the youngsters are during the summer months said they continue to receive nutritious food. congress gave us additional reservists -- resources t find the best practices to deal with these issues. host: such as? guest: instead of asking youngsters to congregate in a certain location, finding out where they spend their summer time. maybe it is that the swimming pool. figuring out ways in which you can get the food to where they are in terminstead of having tho to where the food is. host: if you want to find out more information about what we
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have talked about today, go to our website. coming up we will talk whiith joseph boardman. first, an update from c-span radio. >> president obama in remarks earlier said he will not set a new deadline for closing at guantanamo bay military prison but doesn't expect the facility to shut down sometime next year. adding she realized things move more slowly in washington than he realized. he is now in south korea. also traveling, secretary of state hillary clinton. the secretary has made an unannounced trip to afghanistan this morning. she is visiting u.s. troops there. in iraq, the president saying he
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is spending part of the key election clock back to parliament to be amended. the move threatens to undermine iraq's democracy. u.s. commanders had tied the move of troops to the national vote. south carolina state ethics committee will decide whether a three-month investigation has enough evidence to impeach mark stanford. they are investigating whether the governor wrote rules on travel for personal or political purposes. those questions are rising after he acknowledged in june that he had been in argentina for a five-day rendezvoused. . .
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"washington journal" continues. host: we're joined by joseph boardman, head of amtrak. how has this year compared to last? guest: it was down a little bit, but what is good is that we are up over 5% over 2007, so seen continued growth. host: where in particular? guest: in long distance and state corridor trains, consistent growth there. we had an area in the northeast that has been performing amazingly, between harrisburg and philadelphia and then on to new york city. we electrified that a few years
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ago, a decision from the previous ceo. a tremendous decision. we are still growing brighter ship in the double digits. host: how do gas prices factor in? guest: external gas prices as they went up in 2008, we had the highest year of ridership ever, nearly 29 million riding our trains. the record was 2008, and even this year is higher than that of 2007. the economy affected it this past year. we saw it in the northeast corridor with an overall reduction of 9%. in other areas ridership continued. overall, we have still done better than done2007. host: how much money does amtrak take from the federal government? guest: 4 operating assistance
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about $540 million, and capital, in the area of $900 million up to $1 billion. yes, that is close to years past. it is growing. we got of $5 billion backlog for infrastructure improvements, below the rail improvements in the northeast corridor for what we owed with bridges, rails, ties. we have $10 billion of a backlog in any of the needs that need to be taking care of. host: you have a five-year plan coming up. what are the details and how is it different from in years past? guest: we had a reauthorization last year. the passenger real improvement in investment act from 2008 really allowed us at that time to have authorization levels at
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a higher level for both operating, $600 million, and over $1 billion for capital systems. host: that plan also includes some goals? what are they? guest: liability, improved customer service, and we are involved with the high-speed rail to make improvements. we want to be safer, a greener, healthier. we want to be part of the national purpose, helping out and we have been in places like hurricane areas where we can provide relief. host: if you want to talk to our guest about the operation of amtrak, joseph boardman. we have the bottom lines differently for this segment. if you live in the eastern and central time zones the first number. if you live in the mountain and pacific time zones it is of this second number. we have also set aside a special line for those of you who ride
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amtrak on a special basis, that third line. if you want to call in on one of those three lines, feel free. a thanksgiving is next week. what is first on your mind with that? guest: it is a big week, 660,000 riders, the biggest week of the year. wednesday will probably have 125,000 riders, a typical wednesday is about the mid 70,000's. we know that this is our big week and are getting ready for. we will have 10 additional trains in the pacific northwest. additional trains in the northeast. we will add cars in california to meet demand. host: what about security? guest: a couple of months ago we did an effort with the new york city police. all the police on the east coast. over 100 agencies where we
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improved visibility and made sure they understood what amtrak needed. we'll have 46 different dog teams out next week checking all of our trains. we will have package and baggage screening teams out on a random basis. we have a very good plan. the most important thing, and alert public. we need to hear from someone who sees something that does not look right. host: our guest is joseph boardman, president and ceo of the amtrak. you can use the lines we have set aside if you would like to talk to him. you can also tweet us. there is an effort in the senate for fiscal year 2010. part of it is an amendment that allow guns in checked luggage on entered. is that something you endorse?
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guest: years ago before it 9/11 amtrak used to have that policy. it has become more complex today. we want to make sure to do it properly, securely. is more difficult on the train than planned. think about the fact that if you check something on a plane you do not have access, but we have baggage cars and some were born about one year before me,. , they do not have the facilities to lock them up at this minute. we have to use personal to check the appropriate documentation for them. -- there were born about one year before me, in 1947. they don't have the facilities to lock them up. host: the next call comes from bethesda, maryland. caller: i still enjoy amtrak which is a much better than driving. it is better than flying. it is a shame that we do not
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invest more in rail. it is fabulous. thank you so much for amtrak. hostguest: the interesting thins that we are beginning to invest more in real. we have an administration with president obama and ray lahood and people in d.o.t. today you really support real. we have been under-invested for so long it is difficult to make the changes all at once. but we are seeing in it. host: virgil is up next from caller: michigan good morning. -- virgil is up next from michigan. caller: good morning. you saw were you have the automobile take a passenger along to a destination -- there was a time them.
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do you think that you will get back to offering that service? guest: i do think so. you believe in the afternoon or late afternoon from virginia and go all the way to florida. it is a well-used service, close to something we make money on. caller: what would be the cost for that guest: service i don't have that right now in my head but it would depend on the vehicle and number of people that you would use. you can call 1-800-usa-rail. host: the website is also linked to our website with c-span. caller: thank you. i am now a frequent rider of amtrak. i was on it from chicago to seattle last week. there is an old saying in sales
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-- you cannot sell secrets. i think that america is rails our a gem, diamond in the roof. i think that if amtrak were marketed properly, as if carnival corp. marketed it, if it were to add wifi, add old cars, perhaps entertainment -- i think that america is ready with an aging population or more time on their hands to experience rail. outside of the commuter corridors i think you have a real gem in the rough that could make a lot of money. guest: some of our consuming conductor said that they have entertainment on the train every day, but i do understand what you're saying. many of our long distance trains are full today.
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people are using them on a regular basis. empire builder -- every long- distance train has a different character. i have been here almost one year. pedro and i were talking about that. i was here on my birthday last year in december. i have logged about 50,000 miles since then on trains going across the country, east to west twice, each of the quarters that we operate. i am getting out there and seeing a different character of services. very different on the empire builder then on the california zephyr. you are right. it is a tremendous secret. host: how big names like empire- builder and california zephyr? guest: railroads have a rich
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history and the empire builder was named after folks who put that part of the country together. the california zephyr, i am not the rail fan who could answer a lot of those questions, but many of our workers could. there is at the story behind each. we do not disagree with ken. some of the things we need to do when looking at the plants and investments necessary to reduce the time travel -- speed is very important. i said earlier today that speed was more important to me when i was younger. i used too race here at the raceway when i was a young servicemen in the 1960's. today is important to reduce time of trouble as between
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washington and new york where it takes two hours, 45 minutes. you will not come close to that in a car which will be four or five hours. we can move that down at a reasonable series of costs to about two hours, 15 minutes. then the cost becomes very steep to reduce the time further. out of the 310 trains will break every day, more than half operate at 100 miles per hour, up to 150 miles per hour. host: one of the focuses of this administration is high-speed rail. guest: yes, we see two tracks for that. we are the only very high-speed operator in the u.s. our acela-train does get up to 150 miles per hour, and the future will be 180 miles per hour. but we need to make improvements on the tracks, on the electrical supply above the train itself,
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and on smoothing and improving the approaches into place like baltimore to make that really happened. we have a 20 of those trains out right now and think we could add five more if we had them available. we are looking at the next generation in the next 10 years of having much higher speed trains. host: we're showing them up with some of the range of these projects. what does it mean for areas other than the northeast? guest: the other thing that is interesting which people lose track of because we're always compared to europe and japan -- there is a culture over there. where i think the administration is absolutely right is there not only looking at the very high speed and perhaps a san francisco to l.a. or some
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florida services, but they are also looking at how we improve the culture of high speed. an incremental approach to improving travel in a shorter corridor for example, a st. louis to chicago, or atlantic to charlotte. where it becomes very competitive with the automobile. you do not have to add more lanes to the highways. there is a two-pronged approach and i think it is exactly right. host: is it easier that we have a vice-president he used to ride the train all the time? guest: both easier and harder. that is a little levity because the vice president rides a lot. oh, yes, still. the security is tough.
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the secretary of transportation rides our train all the time. we see people putting their behavior with the things that they are saying. it is very pleasing not only to ensure management, but to the men and women who work at amtrak to see that with this administration. host: athens, georgia, go ahead. caller: hello, mr. joseph boardman, i love interest. i hope that the federal stimulus gives you more money to build more of lunch. i have a real problem with the scheduling glitch. if you are traveling from atlanta out west, the train always stops in new orleans at 7:00 p.m. and you cannot leave to continue west until 1:00 p.m. the next afternoon. i love new orleans, but cannot afford to have a hotel room in new orleans one way and back every time i went to visit my family in texas, for example, or california where i have friends.
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it has been that way for a long time. i wish you could tell me if there is any way around it? i have not discovered it. it seems like it would be simple to just move the schedule a little and to change that. please consider that. guest: thank you. one of the biggest challenges we have is a schedule that works right for everybody. as you go across this country, often times, most of the time of community once service at 8:00 a.m. when they're on their way somewhere and may be at 5:00 p.m. when they're on the way back. it is difficult. we know we have some issues with that area because of the number of trains operating. we are looking at some different scenarios with the texas eagle and with the city of new orleans
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and with the sunset limited. and the crescent which i think is what you are riding, but we do not yet have it all worked out. part of the difficulty, if you do one time for someone here it has to match up with connections elsewhere. probably the place we do best is in chicago. you almost have to go to chicago to go anywhere going either east or west. chicago is relieved of rail hub. host: another frequent writer, ken, from new york. caller: a brief question that might be politically sensitive, but i'm wondering if you have an opinion on the performance of john snowe in the rail industry and whether you have any personal relationship with him. guest: no personal relationship with john who used to be the csx
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ceo back when norfolk southern backcsx took over conrail and was the commissioner of transportation for the state of new york at the time. i did meet johnnow and understand his interest to improve csx, but i do not know him personally. he did do a lot to make those improvements of csx. that railroad has grown substantially. now michael ward is the ceo and we talk on a regular basis. host: who is responsible for the upkeep of the tunnel or the bridge? guest: amtrak is responsible. if it is a host roe railroad, then they are responsible.
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there is more budget going into the infrastructure than into the operating system. amtrak is the most efficient railroad in the u.s. people ask how you can say that. because we cover on the operating level 85% of our costs. we only get 15% through subsidy. there are no other railroads in the u.s. who can make that claim, at least we believe. we make a profit on some services, above the rail profit. as soon as you get below the rail, such as with the bus operating on the interstate highway paying taxes on that, but without the responsibility to maintain anything below the tire. if you look at us in the same way that we are above the rail, then you'll see some of our
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services making money. host: your ticket sales? guest: yes. host: 1 more question from twitter. guest: maglev is a technology hunting for a long period of time to build a. it is very expensive. some has been done in china. there are pieces that have been done across the world. there is talk about it in pittsburgh and other places. amtrak knows about it, but is not in the position to invest in those kinds of technologies. that is really a governmental or other organization that must. host: magnetic levitation? guest: yes. host: glendale, go ahead. caller: good morning. i took the train out of kingman
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and it left it 2:00 a.m. if you could do something with the seats which do not fold completely down. if you take the sleeper at 5 $1 or $600 per night, i think people would ride more if you could do something with the seeds to get a good night's sleep. i have taken loss angeles to seattle and seattle to chicago. the price is right, but the comfort is horrible when you have to sleep of bright in that chair on that. if you could work that out -- whenever i go to ride the train i have to get on at 3:00 a.m. or 11:00 p.m. if something could be done to improve that, it would be great.
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the other thing, the trains are not that clean. you could do a better job of keeping the trains clean. guest: having cleaned trains, toilets that work, things better is part of what we really are focusing on today. you are right about that. amtrak used to have what they called it slumber coaches, allowing you to buy at a much cheaper rate. going between washington and boston. it is something we have discussed, but have not had the necessary resources to do it in a way that would work well for people. we're still looking at it for the future. i do understand what you're talking about. host: a frequent writer from lewis, ohio. caller: yes, i want to tell him about best rewards. i went to denver six times, to
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florida five times. it is a very good service and people can get it with their credit cards. i love the train. guest: thank you. we like so many today do look to reward those who use our trains regularly. thank you for the number of times you have been to both denver and ford on oand check -- and to florida. host: this twitter message. guest: we have some of the most dedicated union people out there. this company will celebrate 40 years of service relatively sen. i have found -- will celebrate relatively soon. it is the enthusiasm and work of the people at amtrak to make
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this company survive. they will make it survive for the future. there is always that kind of issue in every industry. these folks do a great job. host: port charlotte, fla., john, good morning. caller: i grew up in the 1950's and remember riding the trains a lot. you had numerous private carriers. the routing at the time was good, cost-effective. the problem now is the routing is a problem. it does cost more compared to flying. but i don't know, what influence does the airline lobby have on restricting amtrak's ability to be more cost-efficient and provide better routing? i know that more people would take the train if the routing
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were better. you have to go all the way to chicago if you are going westbound. guest: unless you are going on the crescent from new orleans. the airlines do not prevent us from doing anything. since the 1950's when they have the private railroads operating, in the 1980's there was a rationalization with a certain act that began to occur with all the railroads and lots of mergers to we were down to only four major freight roads and only one passenger railroad which is entered. many of those routes are gone or not available to passengers. that is what the obama administration has begun to look at. they have talked about the investment of $8 billion to bring back some of those routes for the future. the one from ohio is a typical
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example, cleveland it to columbus to cincinnati that does not have service right now that could really show improvements to the mobility of people in ohio if it happens for the future. we're looking at partnerships with both the federal government and states to make those improvements. host: one more call from eva who has never ridden amtrak but wants to. caller: i have not ridden the train since i was 14 years old in nebraska down to denver which is a short trip. i would love to have a trip on amtrak and in saving money to do that, but one of the problems that i see on that route from atlanta i have to go all the way to washington, d.c. and then back to chicago in order to give
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back to iowa/nebraska where i would like to go. there does not seem to be any direct route from atlanta to omaha. there is no se to northwest route. when the gentleman was talking about his route stopping over in new orleans for just -- is an incredible amount of time to be an overnight the zoo. maybe that is a tourist thing for louisiana and they want that the way it is, but i would like to have some routes from the southeast of to chicago. -- maybe that is a tourist thing to stay overnight for louisiana. secondly, if anyone has driven the route from atlanta of to nashville and then up to st. louis, that is a horrible
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bottleneck of cars, extremely dangerous. i finally took another route and go straight across now to memphis and take a north route which is much more safe. i would like to mention anything that you know which might be on the planning horizon for amtrak. guest: there is nothing on the horizon to do a straight-thru service from the southeast up to the northwest. there are some routes you could connect with, but as the other gentleman talked about, the weights to get the next train would be too great -- the waits are too great. the problem is the same with planes. if you want to fly from atlanta to charlotte often you go all the way into new york city which congests their air- traffic. then you come back to charlotte.
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the difficulty is -- there are many difficulties, but a huge part of it is what we talked about a few minutes ago. there is not a culture who rides trains to support the culture. if you look at high-speed service in the northeast, we have 40 million people within 40 miles. it is were the greatest demand in the u.s. will be for high- speed rail for the next several years or even beyond. host: we took about government participation. but amtrak ever become fully self-sufficient? guest: i suppose if you eliminated a lot of these conductivities through the country. like this young woman was asking -- if you got rid of all of those huge part of that subsidy of that 15% goes to making sure that we maintain those connected
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services to chicago, to denver, to seattle, all over the country. we are the only coast to coast, border to border passenger trains in this country. it is appropriate to continue to support those long distance services. just like our country has supported rural electrification and rural interstate highways that could not have paid for it at the time. now many of those highways are congested in the more urbanized areas. we need to continue to support that connectivity. host: amtrak.com. joseph boardman, the president and ceo. thank you. we'll wait numbers from the congressional budget office in regards to senate health care.
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we will speak martin vaughn from the dow jones newswires. he joins us next. >> attorney general eric holder testifies on a wide range of issues this morning, including the attempt to try some terrorist detainees in the u.s. live coverage at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span3. after the hearing we will take your phone calls and reaction. booktv, this weekend -- the financial crisis on the afterwords. this author. she is interviewed by vermont senator bernie sanders. on sunday this host looks at the transfer of power. on sunday afternoon, three new books both by and about sarah palin, including a book-signing with her.
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a reporter on the persecution of sarah palin. and a reporter and another reporter concerning sarah palin. >> american icon, three nights of the original documentaries on the iconic palms of the three branches of american government beginning thursday night. the supreme court reveals the building in explicit detail. on friday the white house, it inside america's most famous home. our visit shows the grand public places as well as the rarely- seen places. on saturday, the zero cacapitol. americans icons 43 memorable nights at 8:00 p.m. eastern
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from thursday through saturday. host: martin vaughn, when will the c.b.o. release numbers on senate health care? guest: we expect that to happen today. host: how does it affect the debate as it is currently going? guest: senate majority leader harry reid has been waiting for c.b.o. and in discussions with them, and waiting for them to put out the final estimate of this before you can take the bill to the floor. the senate has been in limbo for nearly two weeks since the house passed its bill. members are looking to c.b.o. to validate the senate bill. it will be deficit neutral over 10 years, that it will continue not to add to the deficit over the second 10 years. that takes you through 2029. they are also looking for the price tag, the gross cost
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president obama has said he wants less than $900 billion over 10 years. host: republicans and democrats are probably looking at it different ways inside the senate? guest: yes, what does c.b.o. say about the bill? what are the areas that the bill will add cost to the system? host: the legislature put a lot of stock in to the c.b.o. -- what is their track record? guest: there's not a lot of follow-up going back to make sure that what they projected does come to pass. the one example that i can think of is when congress passed the medicare part d drug benefit for seniors. they got something is very wrong. they way under-estimated the
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cost of the bill and had to come back a couple of years later. generally, c.b.o. is looked to as a respected, neutral, non- partisan observer. so, their opinion is important. host: we spoke with laurie montgomery from "the washington post" about health care this morning. there are three senators to look at. where do they stand on their current part of the effort? who has changed their minds of the the last couple of days? guest: those three are keeping their own thoughts close to the best. when they have been asked lately, the standard response is "well, we have not seen a bill yet." they are careful not to make statements to be construed one way or the other. the key question is whether they
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will support the procedural vote to move a ford to debate. some senators have said that the substance of the bill is not as important as supporting the initial procedural vote. e people. van bye adn julie berliand joe e willing to move afford. many want to see what is in the bill first. host: what is at the base? guest: it might be different things for the different members. a key issue is the public option and what it looks like. how far away it is from the house public option. that is a key issue for the centrist senator is.
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host: the fact there is movement ahead, it does it tell you that the vote will go on regardless of what the c.b.o. says? guest: it is too soon to tell. the c.b.o., their opinion today will validate what ever reid is doing. they will not unveil this bill unless, without the approval from c.b.o. the question is, can they get -- there are three senators on board to start debate, and after that can they get a broader group? as many as 10 democrats to support the cloture motion.
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host: what does senator harry reid look at it? guest: he takes it as it comes. he wants to get the three senators on board. then he will try to iron out the tough options like the public option and the tough language on abortion. host: minnesota is the first call. the numbers are on your screen and you can also join us via twitter or send us an e-mail at c-span.org. bob on our democrats line, you are first up. caller: the public option could make the healthcare bill self- sustaining because if you're
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going to charge the public an amount that is actually, if the insurance companies were to compete with it would be able to make a reasonable profit instead of gouging us. that could be one of the things to help the bill before itself. and also, if you relieve the hospitals of having to spend 13% of their expenses on just billing insurance companies, you could come out ahead on that deal. if you were to make the billing
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for medicare -- i understand that medicare, there's a lot of wasteful spending. if you get a handle on that and a little bit of a handle on the attorneys, tort reform. guest: the caller is putting his finger on the public option which is a key feature of the house bill. he is right. the democrats in the house say their objective for the public option being in there is to provide more competition for private insurers. they feel it is something to help control the cost of private insurance. that there is a government- sponsored plan serving as a competitor. whatever public option version
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winds up in the senate bill it will be less than the house version because this center democrats, the more conservative democrats will more power in the senate. host: york, pa. on our independent line. caller: i have a question as to why it costs us so much money to legislate. there are laws that they want to put on the books to not turn away for a pre-existing condition. i don't understand why it costs so much to make that law? make them use their money to abide by it. the same with maxine out your insurance as you have paid 40 years on your plan and you get to be 60 and are sick and you
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are halfway through your cancer treatment and all the sudden they say that you are done? i do not understand why it costs taxpayers so much to legislate these laws. thank you very much. guest: another way to put that is, why don't the insurance companies just pony up? to say we are prohibiting denials on pre-existing conditions and make some reforms on our own. i don't know quite how to answer. it is a negotiation. insurance companies come to the table to offer things. they said they would agree as part of the bill to stop denying pre-existing conditions. to change some of their other practices. it has to be part of the balance of concessions to finally come
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out at the end as a broad health care overhaul if they do succeed. host: here is a question concerning the c.b.o. from twitter. guest: is there truth to the statement that they have hypotheticals? yes, the c.b.o. even says in their analysis that assumptions are based on a lot of very uncertain -- their analysis is based on a lot of very uncertain assumptions. the project into the future, try to score things that have not before been attempted. they may not have much basis for knowing how the market will
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react. host: it is 10 years out that they must assume for? guest: 10 years is the key time frame, and they even have to go through 2029. obviously, that 20-year analysis is less detail. but they have to put out something. they have to give a general idea concerning either increase or reduction of the deficit. host: maryland, you are next, on the republican caller: line i am doing pretty good. i am a small businessman and have 3 retail locations and about 30 employees both part- time and full-time. $55,000 per year is my healthcare costs. they have gone up between 12% and 30% since 2000.
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before that they were marginal. the thing that concerns me is the state's control competition. that is within the states. a public option does not mean more competition because states have to absorb 21% of medicare and medicaid expenses. no one puts much emphasis on that part. that is absorbed by me, a businessman. the state's put that into my premiums in the private sector. the c.b.o. scores these bills based on whatever political group tells them that they think will happen going forward. there's not much credence in these things. they are newly-chartered waters. my big concern is, when i hear there will bring this to the floor of the senate.
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there will water down the public option and take out abortion and leave in the stupak amendment. once they get the bill passed by getting fearful democrats on board there will come back with a robust public option and of the abortion part. they only need 51 votes to carry its after goes to conference. why are we playing these games? why can't they look at things on their merits and put the real numbers out there? instead of playing these games and putting up to 21% of our gdp at risk for the next 10, 15, 20 years, and ruining everyone's health insurance? there is no way that they will cut premiums.
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that was the whole idea. guest: the caller is making a prediction about what will happen coming back from conference. i will note that even though he is right that they only need 51 votes from the senate they still do need the house majority. i question whether stupak and his supporters will been in support of the conference report not including abortion language. but we are so far from that. the bill still has to go through many machinations and then get through the senate. one legitimate issue he hit on, state regulation of the insurance industry. very early in the whole debate the decision was made that lawmakers crafting the bill were not going to dismantle the
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current system of state regulation of the insurance industry. that remains pretty much intact. there are provisions in the house bill for state compacts. if states wanted to join with other states to form a compact you could sell insurance across state lines. that would be new. it would have potential to create more competition. the fundamental state regulation stays in place. host: here is a question from twitter. guest: the house did include a provision to strip the antitrust exemption. i have not heard whether it will be in the senate bill. it would not surprise me. host: here is a poll concerning
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taxation. it says that americans do not want to shoulder the cost of obama's overhaul and a strongly prefer that those rich should pay it. it could be a boost for house democrats who have already voted to tax wealthy people. guest: the house bill includes the surtax on the wealthy. it would hit to married couples making more than $1 million. and a single people making more than $500,000. that is the way the house chose to finance much of its plan. the idea is that wealthy americans benefited from the economic expansion of the 1990's and is now time for them to give something back. the senate does not include that surtax on the wealthy. their main feature is an excise tax on so-called cadillac plans. those are in charge plants above a certain premium threshold.
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the advantage to the senate plan proponents would claim is it has the potential to constrain health care costs growth and reduced premiums for the future. the house surtax will not have any effect on health care costs. that is what the senate can argue. but a surtax on the wealthy does appear to have a lot of support from the public. host: kathy on the line for democrats from austin, texas. caller: i liked the fact you are having this debate and the fact that your guest seems to be middle of the road in giving his opinion and relaying the facts. it is not always the case. in our country we have decided concerning education to create a public system available to all. and mandatory. we pay for that as a government. we have decided it is the right
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for people to have fire protection and police officers. those organizations are government-funded. people get a reasonable salary in those organizations. we consider that to be fair, and government responsibility. nobody complains recalls that socialism. in this country when firefighters or paramedics show up at someone's house did not stop to ask whether they have insurance. when someone goes to the emergency room and is mandated that they receive care. in practice our nation has already decided that healthcare is a right, just like other things. this is the only portion of government-mandated services which somehow the people who run the program get to be private. i asked a friend of mine, a firefighter, how he would feel if the head of the fire
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department for making $10 million per year? would we consider that to be fair in controlling the cost of emergency services, or the same for education? guest: the caller is getting to some fundamental questions driving the debate. what is an essential government function? making sure that citizens have health care coverage and get access a government function? should health care be a guaranteed right? one thing i would point out with all this debate with are we going to bend the cost curve and are we going to do something about rising health-care costs? there is no doubt that the cost to the government to provide health care under these bills will go up substantially. it is because of these bills
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would make access to health care essentially are right. the question that has not been answered is whether the bills are, what are they doing for people who already have coverage and care? are they reducing costs for people in that camp? host: indiana, pa., built on the independent line. caller: yes, i would like to know why all of a sudden the democrats have requested to see the bill before it is passed through the house and been scored? the ones who don't i believe should be fired. we need to know what is in the bill. it should go on line for people to read it. too many times they push it through. when it goes to the top they add more staff.
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in the long run the americans get screwed. guest: you are identifying an issue much of the public is concerned about. lawmakers hear that. one of the demands by some centrist democrats is when the bill comes down they would have 72 hours to read it before any vote takes place. the majority leader reid seems to being willing to accept that. it will likely be a saturday vote if the bill comes out today. there is more care given to that. is it enough? the house bill was more than 2000 pages. the senate bill is also likely to be hefty. it is a legitimate concern. you can always argue if enough time has been given to weigh
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these matters. host: one more call, from tennessee on the republican line. caller: thank you. good morning to c-span. thank you for the great work at c-span. this is what i call a window to our government. we can see all three branches. we can see whether what they're doing for the american people is right, or not to. i would like to say a couple of things to the showman who makes me think of a republican. he obviously knows what the stock market is. it comes back down to the accountability which obama has been speaking so much of, transparency. the american people want to see honesty of their leaders, across
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to produce something concrete that can be seen. the author of the book, "architects of the ruling" opens the whole thing. talk about a whistle-blower. i wish there were more people like this gentleman. he says exactly what correction is going on in american government. if it continues, we will see a collapse. we will see the stock market crash. this gentleman probably already knows it. we have enough debt between china and other countries. our stock market has taken a heavy blow. the american people, if they could see some on discipline among their own members is what it comes down to. take some of these people in washington who have a free rein and no one says to wait a minute.
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guest: a lot of issues raised there, ethics in congress. not sure how it is affecting this health care debate, but it is an issue. host: will we have something ready on the final bill by the end of guest: the year it is a question i cannot answer. it is anybody's guess right now. it is what they are working towards. the senate is a tough slating. it is not a foregone conclusion that we will get something through the senate. host: martin vaughn of dow jones newswires, thanks. guest: my pleasure. host: we will take a look in about a half-hour at senator robert byrd, the longest-serving member of congress.
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>> president obama in an interview on a cnn today says he is close to a decision to boost troop levels in afghanistan and will make an announcement in the next several weeks. he says he did not want his successor as president to inherit the afghan conflict. he said the multi-year occupation would not serve u.s. interests. on the economy, the president says accreting the jobs is not the goal of becoming forum. speaking to nbc news earlier he said the purpose of the december summit is how to encourage hiring by businesses still reluctant. the unemployment rate hit 10.2% last month. more on hillary clinton's unannounced trip to afghanistan. in addition to visiting troupes she will attend tomorrow's an abortion of karzai and meet with
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general stanley rick crystal. security is being tightened for that which could be a target for militants. the attorney general defends his decision to put their professed 9/11 mastermind on trial in new york city. he testifies in half an hour before the senate judiciary committee. . .
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host: some record holders stand out from the others. byrd was paying tribute at the time to mike mansfield. we're going to talk about that event a little later on our program. first, to kind of set it up and to talk about senator robert byrd and other issues, we want to ask you at home, regarding
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this, get your thoughts on the most effective senator. now, it could be a senator who's currently in the senate or someone who has past served in the senate. we want to get your thoughts on that. most effective senator, past or present. call in now. host: your thoughts on the most effective senator, past or present. we'll take those calls in a moment. don't forget that you can also e-mail us. or if you want to, you can twitter us. donald richie, the u.s. senate historian, will be joining us in about a half-hour from now. as we look at those calls a little bit more from the story
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from the "charleston gazette." it says, he was already married to his beloved for nearly four years when thanksgiving he was deemed a federal holiday in 1941. he began his political career four years later as a member of west virginia's house of delegates and remains the only member of congress to earn a law degree while a member of the federal legislature, according to his website. again, that is from the "charleston gazette." a picture there. this is an associate press file photo taken in 1958. senator byrd turns 92 on friday. again, your thoughts on the most effective senator, past or present. first up is new orleans on our democrats line. judy, go ahead. caller: hi. host: hi. caller: i'm thinking that senator byrd because he knows the constitution. he always has. every time anything comes up he always shows his booklet.
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i wish someone -- and i was wishing also that i could have gotten in to talk to the last guest to ask him to check and see who decided and when that the businesses would pay everybody's health care? health insurance, i should say, not health care. wish somebody would check it because i think it's a ponzi scheme. thanks. host: texas. clinton our republican line. caller: yes, he's not senator currently but rand paul of kentucky will be one of the most effective senators once he's elected. the general election of 2010. host: why do you say that? caller: he's going to be a conservative voice taking jim bunning's spot effectively. he'll vote against bailouts for a balanced budget. host: and as we continue on these calls about the most
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effective senator past or present, "the washington post" it's a look at an effort made by the treasury department. when it comes to financial fraud cases, the administration announced yesterday that there will be a task force to combat financial fraud after deciding that the number of complexity of investigations linked to economic crisis required a more coordinated response. it was created by executive order. the financial fraud enforcement task force targets fraud related to mortgage lending and modifications, securities, stimulus spending and the government's bailout of the financial sector. "this task force's mission is to not just hold accountable those who helped bring about the last nnl meltdown but to prevent another meltdown from happening." that's attorney general eric holder. he said at a news conference at the justice department yesterday. california, sheila. democrats line. the most effective senator, past or present?
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caller: ted kennedy. host: why so? caller: since he took office in the 1960's he's had about -- host: go ahead, caller. caller: ok. since he took office, he's had more impact on history since any president in that time. host: wilmington, north carolina. robert on our republican line. caller: yeah. host: you're on, sir. go ahead. caller: i say senator jesse helmes. host: why so? caller: well, because senator jesse helmes was a very active member of the senate. he stopped a lot of nonsense bills from going through, spending bills, and bills that were not necessary. he was known as mr. no, but did
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he a lot of good things while he was in the senate. i think we kept him in there for, what, 18 years or so. that more or less shows that the people he represented liked what he did, and he worked for the people. host: on twitter, gary d. says "the most effective senator is one who was able to get bipartisan support for legislation. i guess that bob dole would be one." there's a story looking at a current governor's race in texas. this is writing for "the wall street journal" saying that senator kay bailey hutchinson may have won the backing of former vice president dick cheney for her race in texas governor, a key endorsement for candidacy seemed conservative support. but her drive to unseat republican governor rick perry remains an up-hill battle. ms. hutchinson was expected to mount a formidable challenge to
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mr. perry. the g.o.p. winner is an overwhelming favorite to be the next governor in the republican state. but it goes on to say mr. perry has built a large lead in the polls, less than four months ago the largest in the primary, scored points by using what's shaping up as a popular strategy for many candidates during an election cycle. with rhetoric portraying ms. hutchinson as a washington insider out of touch with texans accused her of waffling on her floaj resign from her senate seat. burlington, vermont, most effective senator, past or present? caller: i would encourage people to google george d. akins. senator akins was our governor and also was senator from vermont. he was one of the true bipartisan leaders. he sat down with l.b.j. and brought all the republican votes he could over to pass the civil rights bill. he was known very often for just getting people in a room and talking. so i think he set a fine example
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for people. thank you. host: tulsa is next on our republican line. gladys. caller: i vote for tom coburn. host: why is that? caller: well, he's for the people. and he has another job he can go to, so he doesn't really have to please anybody. and he's got a lot of common sense. he just, i think, makes a lot of sense, common sense. host: little rock, arkansas, is next. richard on our democrats line. caller: i would say i'm a little prejudiced because i am from arkansas, but john l. mcclellan. he was in the office up until 1977, when he died. he served in world war i. i attended mcclellan high school, named after him. and now i'm a v.a. patient at mcclellan health care center in little rock. named after him.
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host: tuesday more than 14,700 americans have been attracted to an amnesty program in recent months and disclosed their secret foreign bank accounts, many more than had been attracted to a previous i.r.s. program. the reason the justice department and i.r.s. officials said was the widespread publicity about the agreement of u.b.s. to pay $780 million and admit to criminal wrongdoing in selling offshore banking services. sterling, virginia. good morning. caller: good morning. jesse helmes. host: why is that? he hung up. joe on twitter says the greatest senator i can think of right now is barry goldwater. next up is columbus, ohio.
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dennis or our democrats line. caller: yes. hello? host: go ahead. caller: barack obama. he got in. he did his job. and he went on and become president. he didn't wallow around like byrd has whose state has suffered because of -- west virginia is a poor state. so that's my opinion. host: the elections leading up to iraq, the -- this is out of baghdad saying that kurdish lawmakers threatened to boycott the election unless the demand for a greater share of parliamentary seats was met. the demand came up on the hills by a threat of a top sunni politician in iraq to veto the election law unless the iraqi voters living outside of iraq
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were also given more seats in parliament. also in the piece this morning, that any delay of the election beyond their scheduled date of january 21 would not only be an international embarrassment, it could complicate the american military plan for withdrawal. midland, texas. i'm sorry, midland, michigan. i'm sorry. caller: yes. senator robert francis kennedy. because even in death he kept the peace in this country. we would have went into another war. host: kenosha, wisconsin. caller: i like bernie sanders. think he's fair and he's honest he tells the truth. i also like russ feingold. he's another center that voted against the war. he's a very intelligent man. thank you. host: fort worth, texas, on our republican line. good morning. caller: i think joe mccarthy was the most effective.
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used to run home in school in 1954 to watch him live. i'm trying to get those video tapes out of the film, the abc, cbs, and nbc films of mccarthy during those hearings. i can't get them. wrote president obama. send me a d.v.d. of some of the tapes. host: athens, ohio. cindy on our independent line. caller: yes. i believe the honorable senator john mccain has made quite a few contributions throughout his entire services to the people and nor the people -- and for the people. host: we'll continue on. if you call in or tweet in as far as the vote, yeskt -- most effective senator, past or present. this is in the "wall street journal" about supreme court justice kennedy. says that justice anthony kennedy said he was frustrated by criticism of his response to
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a school newspaper coverage and called it a misunderstanding that spiraled out of control. he went to new york's school on october 28 to speak to students about civics. shortly after the newspaper ran a note saying it had "numerous publication constraints" that delayed his article. "the new york times" reported justice kennedy's office barred the student's newspaper from publishing an article without its approval. the story flashed prompting editorial writers and bloggers to brand justice kennedy for years as a hypocrite. in an interview justice kennedy said he never asked to clear the copy before publication ex-said the request came from a new employee who misunderstood his long-time rule for classroom visits no outside media. but campus reporters are welcome. as, quote, captain of the him is he accepts responsibility for requests made in his name. the experience surprised justice kennedy who for decades lectured in colleges and grade schools. "my relatives call me from california. my family is upset and all of
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the people are calling me." you can read more in the "wall street journal." corpus christi, texas, republican line. christian, good morning. caller: good morning. i have three senators that i find very important for their work on education. two of them are democrats. dianne feinstein, former senator clinton, and hopefully future texas governor hutchinson. i think all of them have worked across party lines for school funding, public school funding and funding to get kids into college. and i think that's one of the most important things we need to be doing. thank you so much for c-span. host: jim on twitter write that we used to have statesmen in the
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senate such as dirksen but no more, only partisan hacks on both sides. garden grove, california. you are next. most effective senator, past or present? we say hello to sheila on our democrats line. caller: good morning. one of my favorite senators is senator whitehouse. i liked his -- the work that he's doing on the judiciary committee. also, feinstein as the last gentleman mentioned. i think she's a truth seeker. and i think even though president obama kind of wants to move ahead, i think that we need to find out the truth about iraq and a lot of what went on in the last administration. thank you for c-span. host: next call from phoenix. janet on our independent line. coip hi. i think harry reid is the most
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effective senator because he has the whole country, which is kind of right in the center. swallowed his marxist, socialist views and agenda and his nonconstitutional policies. so he's been most effective. host: helena, montana. john on our republican line. caller: yeah, i'd say without a doubt the most effective legislator in the senate was ted kennedy. from breaking up bell telephone to deregulating the airlines to no child left behind and his legacy on the health care bill. there's no one even close really. host: we'll continue with these calls. this is "roll call" this morning. writing that house democratic leaders signaled tuesday they are moving full steam ahead with
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the stimulus bill in the coming weeks, a plan that is already dividing conservative democrats uninsure of whether they can swallow another multi-billion dollar spending package. the plan to gather tuesday evening to discuss the upcoming stimulus bill, the details for which remain murky. top democrats are still undecided on the components or the cost of the bill, although majority leader steny hoyer said lawmakers plan to pass it by december 18 and, quote, clearly need to move on extending unemployment and cobra insurance. charlottesville, virginia. carol on our democrats line. caller: hi. how are you? host: fine. thank you. caller: my favorite senator is l.b.j. and the reason is i worked on capitol hill on the ways and means committee when we passed the original medicare bill. and, of course, l.b.j. at that time was our president. but i had watched him, because i was on capitol hill prior to the kennedy election where he became
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vice president, i had watched him work the senate halls. and he was a true bipartisan person. and he always cared about the poor in this country. we pass more legislation for the poor when he was president and when he was senator than we have since. host: from your days in the senate, are you surprised at some of the goings-on from capitol hill, especially on the senate side? caller: the senate and the house have changed so much. there's so much bipartisanship now. it's really unfortunate. we used to have some really good republican senators that we could work with. the other thing is, you know, back in those days in the 50's and the 60's, the members moved their families to washington. and so we were able to, you know, socialize with them and share more views. they don't do that anymore. you have these republicans who live together on c street, you
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have democrats who rent town houses together. they only talk to each other. you know? they don't talk across party lines and they really should. we used to do that. we don't do that anymore. host: big park, iowa. good morning, eric, on our independent line. caller: yeah. i think tom harkin was one of the more -- one of the better senators. part of the reason why is because of his cash for clunkers. while people didn't see he was behind that, he was behind that. and our only other choice in iowa was mr. grassley and i think he does not listen to his constituents or to the people of the state of iowa at all. host: monday appealier, virginia -- montpelier, virginia. caller: how are you doing this morning? host: fine. thank you. caller: jim webb. host: why? caller: he's a forceful democrat ex-got into office.
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-- democrat. he got into office. he seems like he's doing real good things. host: dover, new hampshire. judith on our independent line. caller: yes. i absolutely think it should be ted kennedy. for many of the same reasons -- uh-oh. wait a minute. host: you're on still. go ahead. caller, are through? she dropped. mississippi. republican line, karl. caller: yes. i think trent lott was one of the most finest senators we've ever had. host: why specifically? caller: specifically because he stood in the arms and appropriations committees and he made this country strong. the thing is we're not strong right now, and i think that we're in serious trouble if we don't follow the kind of leadership that he gave us.
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host: tobias buck out of jerusalem, writes for the financial times saying -- [inaudible] constructing 900 new housing units in jerusalem based on an occupied palestinian land in a move that could stoke tensions, washington said it was, quote, dismayed by the plan. "at a time when we were working to relaunch negotiations, these actions make it much more difficult for our efforts to succeed." that's the president's spokesman, robert gibbs. rosslyn heights, new york. charles on our democrats line. good morning. caller: lieberman. host: why so? caller: i'm kidding. host: one more call. texas. mike on our independent line. caller: yes. good morning. i think it would be senator
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frist. host: bill frist of tennessee. caller: right. he managed to double the premiums of health insurance in six years. i think that makes him pretty effective. host: we came into this question this morning, for those of you who participated, maybe those of you who are just joining us, because robert byrd marks history today as being the longest serving member of congress. this is how it's marked by the "charleston gazzette" this morning. also joining us from that publication is a reporter from that publication. how does your state plan to celebrate today? >> a bigger is monie at the state capital -- a big ceremony at the state capital this afternoon, under the rotunda. host: who's expected to participate? >> a lot of people from the legislature. you know, a lot of people from the public and the governor will
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speak and several other people. there will be a lot of prominent people there to honor the senator. host: what would you attribute the senator's long standing in the senate and the house? >> what he's accomplished? host: yes. >> it's very hard to do that in a couple of minutes. but i think there are many, many things. one, he certainly helped west virginia in so many ways, getting federal money for schools, for roads, for hospitals, for research facilities, for airports, for international guard. and second, he has really stood up for the constitution of the united states, the separation of powers. he's always said that congress has to play a very independent role. and he's criticized some of his fellow members of congress, particularly over the war in iraq. he's been one of the most eloquent people opposing the war in iraq and has recently given a couple of speeches questioning our policies in the future, in a country like afghanistan.
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host: has he always easily won re-election, whether it be in the house or the senate? >> yeah. think he's the first person ever to win all 55 counties in west virginia in one given election. it would be almost impossible to beat him. he just wins every single race that he's run. it's been very impressive. it's not only because of what he's done, which is probably the major part, but he's also very friendly and gets to know people all over the state and has friends everywhere. so it's very difficult to defeat a candidate like senator byrd. host: because of his current health is there concern as far as the impact of what it might do for the state? >> yes. some people have thought -- i guess the question that maybe he doesn't speak on the senate floor as much as he used to. but he has appeared recently. but still, the amount money and benefits he's gotten to the state has been absolutely incredible. and they continue to be incredible. current benefits that have come to the state because of senator
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byrd, because of his very, very senior position. and if senator byrd left the senate at some point, for some reason, west virginia would lose an incredible amount of money and benefits that now come from the federal budget. host: as far as when he gets back home to the states, what do people say about him? the average person, supporters or detractors alike? >> well, i guess some people criticize him for getting too much pork for the state of west virginia. people drive around the state, you look at our highway system, it's the way it is very, very strongly because of what senator byrd has done. roads all over the state, development of buildings, roads. many people are very, very complimentary. host: how long are the celebrations supposed to last and give us 134 details -- some
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details of what will happen. >> i think a ceremony for about an hour and a half. people will recall some of their memories of what senator byrd has done over the years for them and for other people. the role he's played in national history. also one of the most incredible things -- i studied history all my life. think senator byrd is absolutely one of the most outstanding senators in the entire history of the united states. host: why do you say that? guest: well, you look at his accomplishments. and i think particularly the fact that he's defended the constitution and the independence of congress and their right to make decisions. he's consistently opposed to president who's have tried to assume too much power. and he even criticized president obama in february for creating these czars which the senate does not have any control over. they cannot veto the appointment of a czar. they can in other positions. the other remarkable thing about the senator, so many people have criticized him for being a
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member of the ku klux klan. but it's kind of remarkable that he now has like 100% voting record for groups like the naa naacp. i personally think that his change makes him even more remarkable. and some of the people have criticized him for that. don't realize you have to respect the man for changing as much as he has. host: paul nyden with the "charleston gazette" covering events in west virginia today for senator robert byrd. thank you for your time. guest: thank you very much. host: joining us now to talk a little bit more about senator byrd is don richie, located at the russell senate office building. a u.s. senate hiss tore torrian. mr. richie, how would you characterize senator byrd as an effective senator? guest: i think he's been a very effective senator. he's been a majority lead are, minority leader. he's seen legislation from both sides. he's been very instrumental in
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pushing very presidents' programs from john f. kennedy's on through barack obama's. and certainly he's left quite an imprint on this institution. host: as far as his time in office he surpasses senator karl hayden. talk a little about him and put it into perspective. guest: senator byrd came here in january of 1959. one of the senators he was serving with them was carl hayden who had been elected in 1912 when arizona became a state. so between the two of them they have about a century of the senate's history. carl hayden was very much like senator byrd in that he came from a small state, a state that needed a lot of development. he put his interests into the appropriations committee. and he brought back a lot of federal money to arizona to build federal roads to build dams, to build a central arizona project that pumped colorado river water out into the desert
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to increase the size of the state of arizona enormously. the population of arizona is 10 times larger than it was when hayden was a member of the senate. and i think that senator byrd has had a very similar career trajectory. although hayden was famous for never speaking. speaking on the senate floor where senator byrd has been an eloquent speaker. but both of them have put their interests into the senate appropriations committee. senator byrd has now served on that committee longer than any other person in history since the very first month that he was a senator in january of 1959. it was very unusual for a freshman senator to go on the appropriations committee ex-made that a great -- committee. he made that a great request of johnson and russell, who was the man who called the shots really in the senate those days. senator byrd, i think, has been a very consistent follower in a sense of what carl hayden was as a man who understood the
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financial needs of his home state. host: senator byrd is the longest serving member of congress. that's going to be our topic for our final segment on this program. if you want to call in and talk to ask questions about this event -- host: he talks about history, he talks about poetry. what does that do for the members of the senate who listen to these speeches? guest: it's interesting. the senate believes in unlimited debate. and in some respects senator byrd is a connection to the or . he likes to speak, he likes to commemorate things like birthdays and the first day of spring. but he also speaks on major policy issues as well.
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people pay attention to him for a variety of reasons. one, because he's interesting to listen to. secondly, because for many years he was the majority leader and the minority leader. when either party leader speaks, everybody pays attention. back in 1980, one of his granddaughters was sitting in the gallery of the senate and nothing was happening. so he gave a speech for her benefit and for her school class who were there on what they were looking at, on what the senate chamber is all about, what the history was with that chamber. and afterwards a number of senators came up to him and said, you know, it was a very good speech, i didn't know a lot of the things you were saying. he began giving history speeches. he started in 1980. he gave over 100 speeches by 1989, which was the bicentennial of congress. he then compiled those speeches into two very large books on the history of the united states senate, which were published by the government printing office. one was a chronological history, and one a topical history of the
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senate. we still use those because they're very solid works about what the senate is and how it got to be where it is today. he's just interested in the history of this institution. host: don't donald richie, stay with us. want to play a little bit more of senator byrd. >> of all the debates you've been involved in, and you've been here since 1958? >> yes. >> which ones do you remember and why? >> january 1959, i came here. that was at the time when there were great civil rights debates. i remember the civil rights debate of 1964. i remember other debates. debates concerning the line-item veto, debates concerning the amendment to the constitution to balance the budget.
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those are perhaps -- and the minimum of debate, the minimum of debate, about the war in ir iraq, invasion of iraq. i will never, never -- that debate such as it was is etched in my memory forever, until kingdom come. because there it was that the senate gave away, gave away, its heart and soul when it transferred to the president of the united states -- it doesn't mat tore me whether he's -- matter to me whether he's democrat or republican. transferred the power, as it were to declare war. the framers must have been turning over in their graves because it was their view that a declaration of war should be made by not one man, not one body, but both bodies.
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the house and the senate of the united states. the congress shall have power to declare war. host: donald richie what would you add to that? guest: it's interesting. he was here for the resolution in 1964 which senators voted on without very much debate because they really didn't think that they were voting on a declaration of war. they just thought they were dealing with a resolution that was smorting the president in -- supporting the president in a time of crisis. but president johnson used that as a declaration of war much to the chagrin of senators who voted for it. ever since then i think those senators who were involved in that debate in 1964, the lack of debate, felt that when you deal with issues of war and peace, you need a full-fledged debate. they had a major debate in 1991 over the persian gulf war. but much lesser one in 2002 and 2003. and i think senator byrd is reflecting his role in the history of these debates.
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and when the senate has performed as it should and when it hasn't. host: boston, massachusetts, is the first call this morning for donald richie, the u.s. senate historian. as we talk about senator byrd becoming the longest serving member of congress. david on our democrats line. good morning. caller: good morning. i'd like to ask mr. richie if he thinks with how volatile politics are today, if he thinks we could have senators like byrd in a way and kennedy served for 40, 50 years and if he thinks that would be possible in the future the way politics are today? thank you. guest: there are certain senators who have had long-term service. he mentioned senator kennedy who served 47 years in the senate. only senator byrd, among the current senators, has served longer than that. there are no term limits for u.s. senators. the only term limits are the
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voters. as long as senators are doing their job and representing the interests of their state, then quite often they do get re-elected as long as they're willing to do that. it's harder in some states that are more divisive than other states as what the senator has elected, as long as they perceive to be dieing good -- doing a good job. small states in particular have a long track record of re-electing their members because they want them to get the kind of seniority they need to become the chairman of the committee, like the appropriations committee. it's quite interesting that appropriations has tended to be chaired by senators from smaller states in terms of population. part of that is just a natural process of seniority. so it's hard to say what will happen in the future. but certainly there are no restrictions is on the current senators to get that kind of seniority. host: we've compiled some facts about senator byrd about his tenure in the house and senate. we'll show them to you as we listen to this next call from
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west virginia. margaret on our independent line. caller: yes. host: go ahead, margaret. caller: i'd like to know -- i know senator byrd is a big proponent of teaching the constitution. i want to know if he's ever passed a bill or entered a bill to make that part of the school -- you know in our public schools. host: donald richie? guest: that's a very good question because he actually has introduced legislation that is in effect right now that on september 17, which is the constitution signing day, that every institution that receives federal money has to commemorate the constitution in some way. and it's forced universities to actually offer a lecture on the constitution if they don't have a course on the constitution. schools of all levels do something relating to the constitution. but so do federal agencies. the u.s. senate celebrates the
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constitution every year. senator byrd was the first speaker but we've had a whole series of speakers on that occasion. he also was responsible for the teaching american history program, which has pumped millions of dollars into teaching history at the high school levels because he's felt that american school children really don't know enough about american history. and senator byrd has continued to study american history all during his time here in the senate. and he's felt that the school needs to do a better job of it. host: miami. joe on our republican line. caller: yes. two questions. [inaudible] host: joe, i apologize. we're going to have to let you go. the connection is bad. please do try to call back and see if we can get you a better line. as we do that, williamstown, west virginia. democrats line. rebecca, go ahead. caller: we are just so blessed to have had senator byrd all of these years. not just for what he's done for
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the state but that he is a man that was born very poor, with limited view of the world and as he grew, he learned. 's got away -- as he got away from his hometown, he began to see the world. he changed his views about race. he wasn't afraid to do that. he is a lover of the constitution. he's kept his kindness and his passion. he didn't used to -- for the new byes in the senate -- newbies until the senate give constitutional plaque, where people could go and listen to him? guest: well, he spoke on the senate floor and he has lectured here. to say he was the first speaker at our constitution day functions. but the caller has a very good point. senator byrd's life story is an interesting story in that he came from a very poor environment. and he didn't have the
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opportunities to go to college as a young man. he worked as a laborer. when he got to congress, he didn't have a college degree. when he came to the senate, he didn't have a college degree or a law degree. he actually went to law school at night as a u.s. senator. he got his degree in 1963 and arranged for president kennedy to come to american university law school to present him with his diploma when he received it. and to some degree he's never stopped his education. he continues to read. he's got passions for not only american history but he studied british history. he knows a lot about the british parliament. he studied roman history. he then went on to write a little book about the roman senate, preparing the roman senate -- comparing the roman senate and the united states senate. he also wanted to learn parliamentary procedures. but the rules of the senate are very difficult to understand in many ways. and he actually had a private seminar with the parliamentarian of the senate so that he would learn the rules as well as the par lamen tearian knew them.
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he could always use parliamentary procedure to his advantage which i think is one reason why he was such an effective floor leader both in the majority and the minority. host: farmington, michigan. jack on our independent line. go ahead, please. caller: good morning. god bless you. and god bless america. mr. bush, he was the only congressman and united states senator to talk about iraq war. iraq war was nothing bunt a setup -- nothing but a setup to go ahead and try to kill innocent people because iraq has nothing done to america at all. i come from iraq in 1955. god bless america million times. if he want to do something in middle east, we are all children of -- the christians, jewish and
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muslim. are we stupid killing each other in the name of religion? host: ok. mr. richie, you talked about senator byrd's reaction to iraq. anything you want to add to that? guest: well, i think he's always felt that the united states senate is an equal branch of government with the president. the congress of the united states has an equal voice. and, in fact, has unique constitutional powers. it is the only part of the government that actually can declare war. it's the only part of the government that can appropriate funds for military activities. and he's felt that congress needs to be very much involved in every possible way in these things. he's felt the role of congress was not simply to rubber stamp what presidents of either parties do. he's been very consistent, i think in his approach to this i think that explains a lot of his stand on what's happened in iraq. host: on our republican line, pineville, north carolina. linda, go ahead.
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caller: hello? host: you're on. go ahead. caller: yes. i would like to ask mr. richie about senator byrd. i was born and raised in west virginia. west virginia is one of the poorest states in the world, probably. i'd like to know if he thinks that senator byrd has done anything for the state as far as jobs. all the people from west virginia come to north carolina for jobs. i don't see what he's done. it's really a very, very poor state with no jobs and nothing to show for what he's done. guest: well, it's hard to look around west virginia and not see things that senator byrd has done for the state. when he arrived in the state in the congress, there were no east-west roads, major roads, a cross west virginia. it was all north-south roads. he brought a lot of money back from federal road construction which opened up areas that were
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really isolated before. for all sorts of economic development. he's also been very instrumental in shifting jobs of the federal government that used to be done here in woished woished, to west virginia -- in washington, d.c., to west virginia. states elect members to come here to washington, to represent their interests in the major national decision that are being done. and to bring back federal funds to those states, for federal projects. it goes back to the days of henry clay and the american system. and senator byrd is in that tradition. so i think he probably has about as long a track record as anyone in terms of shifting federal resources into what is a very poor state. very much like carl hayden did in arizona as senator stevens did in alaska. the smaller states have tended to re-elect their members to become chairman of the appropriations committee.
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or just to serve on the appropriations committee to make sure that their resources are directed back to them. host: donald richie, someone asked via twitter -- someone says that a good senator would have stepped down once they became mentally and physically disabled. are there concerns about senator byrd's health? guest: well, senator byrd turns 92 this week. that is about the age that carl hayden is when he finished his term. but that is not the youngest person to serve in the history of the united states senate. senator strom thurmond reached 100 serving as senator. i think it's a personal decision of a senator to serve as long as he feels fit. certainly senator byrd seems to relish the job of being a united states senator. host: tell us a little bit about the events today concerning senator byrd. guest: well, i'm not sure what's going on in west virginia but here at the senate there will be a number of senators who will be standing up to commemorate this. senators like to pay tribute to their colleagues when they reach a milestone.
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senator brird -- byrd once stood up in the senate and compared senators to baseball fans ex-said they love -- fans. he said they love statistics. they love to record when someone has achieved something more than anyone else in any particular field. senator byrd actually has a long track record. not only is he the longest-serving senator, he's the longest-serving member of congress in the history of the institution. he's presided over the senate the longest of any individual, 21 hours. he also holds the record for the shortest period of time, keeping the senate in session, for less than a second once during a pro forma session. he enjoys that kind of reputation of setting records and breaking records. i think his colleagues today will pay tribute to that. the senate as a whole appreciates those records. host: another person off twitter says despite his politics mr. byrd is the beginning of an end of gentility in congress
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crafts as -- crassness now rules. guest: yes, he's actually given lectures, speeches in the senate about the need for civility. he came in a different era, in the 1950's. there was morrissey vilt in the -- more civility in the senate. think he's unhappy with the harsh politics and partisanships that has eruptedded from time to time. he felt it's important for senators to behave in a particularly civil man tore each other. this is -- manner to each other. this is what jefferson wrote when he was presiding. he said the issues of the senate are going to be very emotional and divisive. and one way to deal with emotional and divisive issues is to deal with each other in a civil manner. it's the reason why you have this very formal language in the senate. they don't address each other as you but as a senior senator from the great state of. there's a very formal approach to the way in which they proceed in the senate.
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senator byrd is one of the keepers of that tradition. he's a reminder to others about the way the senate operated in the past and the way he believes it should continue to operate in the future. host: our guest for the remaining 10 minutes or so on senator byrd is disonld richie, u.s -- donald richie, u.s. senate historian. senator byrd was asked about what advice he would give to an incoming senator. this is what he had to say. >> if somebody came to you and said, senator byrd, i'm a brand new senator, just got elected, starting out. what things do i have at my finger tips that i can use in debate to have influence on how legislation comes out in the end? >> i was a member of the house of representatives when i first came to congress in january of 1953. a member of the house of representatives. many times in the house of
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representatives i would say, thank god for the united states senate. thank god for the senate. why did i say that? i said that because in the senate a senator is one man among 96, at the time i came here and then 98 and 100 as it is now. one man. he can speak at length. there is freedom of debate, freedom of speech in the senate. i remember in the house of representatives i thought i had 10 minutes at one point and as the debate went on, it finally came up to me. i had one minute. that's not so in the senate. that's why i wanted to come to the senate. that's why -- that's what i would say to a new member. i'd say, senator, you are a member of a forum in which you can speak your mind, and as long as you wish.
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now, work hard in your committees. if you will be a work horse in your committees, other senators will listen to you and they will recognize you as someone who has done his home work or her home work. so do your work. do your work well. whatever committee you're assigned to, do your work with all your mite. and in time you will become one to be listened to. host: donald richie, was he known to give advice to younger senators and did younger senators seek out his advice? guest: yes. definitely. a number of the veteran senators will take aside a junior senator to give them advice like that. senator byrd has been very good about doing that. actually across party lines. not long ago senator conrad burns, a republican from montana, said that when he first came to the senate, senator byrd gave him a half an hour of his time talking about the senate. that's a gesture that's very
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busy senators often don't have the time to do even for members of their own party. so i think he's felt it very important to pass along the tradition. when senator byrd came here in the senate, the senate was a quite etter place. quieter place. the senators before him appreciated the extradecisions of the senate who talked -- the traditions of the plat, talked about that on the floor. senator byrd wanted them to stop from time to time to look at this 200-year history of this institution, to look at the precedents that have made it what it is today, the powerful institution that it is, and talk about their responsibilities as senator. he felt this is a mentoring role i think for junior senators. and the younger senators appreciate the time that a senior senator like senator byrd will take with them. host: there is a tweet. "currently who are the senators who round out the top five in terms of years in service?" guest: the longest-serving senators right now are senator
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byrd, senator inowa of hawaii, senator leahy of vermont, one of the longest serving senators. i'm not sure who the next two would be in terms -- in the list. but at the website, www.senate.gov, we have information about seniority in the senate. and these are people who have served not just of the current senators but really in terms of the history of the entire institution. i think this is an important factor. we're talking about 2,000 people who have served in the united states senate. another 10,000 or 11,000 people who have served in the house of representatives. senator byrd has served longer than all of them combined. not combined, but he served longer than anybody else in that number. the senator of hawaii is up on that list. senator ted kennedy, who just passed away, what's in that list of the longest-serving senators. host: as you heard our guest, a number of speeches will be on
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the senate floor. here's senator rockefeller. >> most importantly and most powerfully, mr. president, senator byrd always makes me so very proud to be a west virginian. at our state capitol in charleston, they're honoring senator byrd with a special celebration today. and the same is happening in cities and communities all across our state. fellow west virginians are giving thanks for senator byrd's voice and for his vision. we're grateful for his strength and his rock-solid principle which has come to define west virginia as surely as our endless hills and beautiful streams. host: senator jay rockefeller on senator byrd today. our next call is st. louis, missouri. jewel on our democrats line. caller: yes. hello. i'd like to give all my
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accolades to senator byrd and the other senior senators. but what i'd like to say is they should be the elders and the consult yantsz to every -- consultants to every junior senator that comes in. but i think we need to have a terml limit. we can have term limits for presidents, we can do that for other congress people also. host: donald richie? guest: it would take a constitutional amendment. the courts, federal courts, have ruled that the constitution set certain specifications. they say how old the person must be when they're elected. they say how many years they must be a citizen of the united states. but they do not say how long they may serve. so term limits right now are up to the voters in every election. of course some senators are defeated when they run for re-election. that's a form of a term limit. but other than that term limits can't be set by the state government. they can set them for
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legislatures but it would take a constitutional amendment to set term limits for members of the house and the senate. host: wielding, west virginia, on our independent line. tim go ahead. caller: hi. wanted to make a comment. actually two of them. senator byrd has been a tireless champion for the constitution. and if you ever watch him, he actually champions that all the time above all else. second of all, when we bring, say, the f.b.i. center to west virginia, we will, you know, bash him about bringing dollars home. but if you look into the details, you'll see that he actually saves money for the taxpayers by bringing them here because the land was so cheap. i believe the f.b.i. center was projected to pay for itself within seven to 10 years. and that was based on what they were paying in rent. in washington. and i just want to thank him for being the champion of the constitution it seems like
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there's not many of those left. host: donald richie? guest: well, yes. west virginia is not that far from washington, d.c. you can get to the state within an hour's drive of washington. so senator byrd argued for many years that you could take some function that didn't need to be in downtown washington do them just as well in west virginia and save money by doing it there. host: probably time for one more call. delaware county, pennsylvania. and angel on a republican line. we're just about to go into the house of representatives. so go ahead with your question. caller: hello? host: go ahead. caller: yes. i wanted to ask the senator how did he get along with senator ron paul with his ideas on taxation and so on, crossing over party lines. host: donald richie? guest: i'm not sure i quite understood that. the question was about taxation. wasn't it?
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host: on the larger sense, how did he get along with other senators, regardless of party? guest: regardless of party? well, he was a party leader. and much of the time that senator byrd was in the senate, the parties were very different. there was a lot more internal divisions within the parties. and there was a lot more cross poll nizzation -- pollonnization, more votes. he was peeling to members of the other party for their support on particular issues. lately party lines have gotten a little more hard-drawn and it's been harder to do that. but i think much of senator byrd's career in the senate has involved working with members across the lines. senators actually will disagree with each other on some issues and agree with each other on others. so sometimes you find republicans and democrats working together on a foreign policy issue even when they disagree onom